|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
In November 2019, MacEwan University implemented a policy on free expression on campus. Their Statement on Free Expression reads, in part:
The University neither seeks to shield the community from a full range of views nor permits interference with the free expression of ideas, except where such speech violates the law, defames an individual, constitutes harassment or a genuine threat, invades privacy, or breaches confidentiality.
MacEwan University is a place of free and open enquiry. All members of its community—its faculty, its staff, and its students, acting in an individual capacity or as members of a group—have the right to express themselves freely, as do all visitors to campus. They have the right to speak, to write, to listen, to challenge, and to learn. While some people may find specific opinions unwelcome or even offensive, a university is the appropriate venue for all points of view to be tested through the scrutiny brought by discussion and debate.
MacEwan University will not restrict the time, place, or manner of lawful conduct, except where it threatens to disrupt the ordinary activities of the institution. Individual members of the University community, and not MacEwan University itself, must judge the validity of ideas that have been shared and, where warranted, contest those ideas in a spirit of mutual respect, rather than seek to suppress free expression. Through rigorous exchange, some points of view will be validated, and other points of view will be discredited.
The University recognizes that free expression is essential to the pursuit of knowledge. All members of the MacEwan community and all visitors to campus are expected to uphold the free expression of other people while following the applicable policies of the University and the relevant legal responsibilities by which the institution is bound.
In the eight “University Pillars” that guide MacEwan’s “core commitments” as an institution, academic freedom, free expression, and open inquiry are not mentioned.
Section 1.0 of MacEwan’s Student Rights and Responsibilities states that “students are responsible for conducting themselves in a manner suited to the best interests of the University.”
Section 2.0 of this policy states:
The rights and responsibilities of students are described to ensure that the university environment is conducive to learning and supports an atmosphere of civility and safety for students and the university community when students are involved in on-campus activities, learning activities associated with courses or in off-campus university-related learning activities and environments, events or other activities.
Section 3.1 and 3.2 of Student Rights and Responsibilities uphold the right of students to assemble and for freedom of the press.
Section 3.9 of Student Rights and Responsibilities states:
Students have a right to freedom of opinion and expression within the bounds of the learning environment and, where course content allows, in assignments and exams, but not at the expense of the rights of others.
Section 3.2.9 of the University’s Harassment policy states:
Harassment is defined as the abusive, unfair or demeaning behaviour towards a person or group that has the purpose or effect of interfering with a person’s or group’s status or performance, or creating a hostile or intimidating work or learning environment. Incidents of harassment may involve the abuse of power one individual has over another. Legitimate and reasonable efforts conducted to address performance or behavioral issues do not constitute harassment. Harassment can take place in person, on the telephone, in writing or other tangible media, or through electronic means such as electronic mail, chat rooms, blogging, and other forms of electronic communication.
MacEwan University has an Office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity that administers “unconscious bias” training and funds ideological advocacy programs.
The authors are not aware of cases of the University limiting or restricting campus free speech rights, or discriminating against students or clubs on the basis of their opinion.
The Students’ Association of MacEwan University (“SAMU”) does not reference free expression in their Mission, Vision, Values, or 2018-2021 Strategic Plan.
SAMU Club Tabling Guidelines state:
Clubs are not permitted to display or hand out any information that may be construed as racist, sexist, homophobic, or promotes hatred towards any groups or individuals.
No yelling at people or asking about their religion, sexuality, dietary choices, or overtly personal questions.
Section 1 of the Clubs Policy states that “The existence and activities of clubs must not impose a legal liability on, or damage the interests of SAMU.”
Section 26.11 of the Clubs Procedure states that clubs have a responsibility to “only host inclusive activities and events.”
The Elections and Referenda Policy of SAMU empowers the Chief Returning Officer to approve campaign materials, but does not provide the scope or criteria by which campaign materials are approved.
SAMU’s Form, Postering Guidelines and Procedures, states that “[c]lubs cannot post anything that might be views [sic] as offensive or demeaning.”
SAMU’s Online Presence Guidelines (also called the Social Media Guidelines and Procedures) state:
A club will be de‐ratified if it is found using discriminatory behaviour on its website.
Clubs will face disciplinary action if they are found posting pictures,videos or comments of a discriminatory nature on their social media accounts.
Make sure that what you post does not reflect badly on SAMU or MacEwan.
The authors are not aware of any case where SAMU has taken a position outside of its mandate.
The authors are not aware of cases of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University limiting or restricting campus free speech rights, or discriminating against students or clubs on the basis of their opinion.
In the 2018–19 financial year,* MacEwan University received $128,673,000 in taxpayer dollars in the form of government grants. These taxpayer funds accounted for 51.2% of their annual revenue.
*MacEwan University did not make their 2019–20 financial statements available by the time of publication of the 2020 Campus Freedom Index.