|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) names “Academic Freedom” as one of its six core Values, although its Vision and Mission statements do not mention free speech or academic freedom.
Mount Saint Vincent’s Library website includes a statement in support of intellectual freedom:
The library considers it important to purchase materials representing differing opinions on controversial matters as long as they satisfy the general criteria for the selection of monographs and serials. Selection is without partisanship regarding matters of race, sex and sexual orientation, religion, or moral philosophy. Neither the unpopularity of a point of view nor the mode of expression will be used to justify censorship of an author's works.
Section 1.0 of the “Student Charter of Rights and Responsibilities” in MSVU’s Non-Academic Disciplinary Policy explains which rights and privileges students enjoy on campus. Section 1.1 (b) and (g) are relevant to free expression:
Students can expect to:
- b) Enjoy living in a tolerant community where freedom of expression, belief and political association is celebrated provided these beliefs do not interfere with the rights of others or contravene university policy.
g) Belong to any lawful association of their choosing including the right to assemble and participate in demonstrations within the University provided that such actions do not violate the rights of other members of the University community nor breach the responsibilities as outlined in this Charter.
Under Section 1.2(a) of the Non-Academic Discipline Policy, “Student Responsibilities”, ambiguous language enables administrators to censor speech if it is considered to threaten or endanger the “dignity” of any person:
As members of the University community, students are expected to contribute tomaking it safe, respectful and inclusive. Conduct which threatens or endangers the health, safety, well-being or dignity of any person contravenes university regulations.
MSVU’s Fair Treatment Policy includes a clause protecting academic freedom and free speech from infringement by that particular policy, which is intended to protect members of the university against discrimination and harassment:
This Policy is in no way meant to infringe upon academic freedom or to impede the pursuit of positive active learning and working. Nor should harassment be confused with the employer's right to manage or faculty's right to set academic standards.
The authors are not aware of any cases of Mount Saint Vincent University discriminating against students on the basis of their speech, nor of the University censoring student-held events, lectures and other functions.
In order to be ratified, student groups must submit an application for approval by the MSVU Students’ Union (MSVUSU) Vice President for Student Life. Restrictions on the “purpose” of a student club are found in the MSVU Society Policies:
iii. The society must not have the same purpose as any society that has already been ratified by the MSVUSU SRC for the academic year.
Concerning ratification, the MSVU Society Policies also states that “the society’s activities must not infringe on the rights or privileges of others, which include the rights to privacy and freedom of expression and association.”
Section 1.3: “Disciplinary Measures” of the MSVU Society Policies empowers MSVUSU officials to de-ratify groups for virtually any reason:
The following will be cause for disciplinary measures:
The society is guilty of any other conduct that the MSVUSU Society Affairs Committee deems as unbecoming of an MSVU Society.
The MSVUSU Advertising and Sponsorship Policy bans “material that demeans or discriminates based on gender, race, sexuality, age, disability or religious beliefs.”
Section 1.05(d) of MSVUSU’s Bylaw 1: Elections imposes a strict limit on the amount of money candidates for student union offices can spend on campaigning: $100 for Executive candidates and $50 for Student Representative Council (SRC) candidates.
Section 1.05(g) of Bylaw 1: Elections governs the use of campaign materials during an election and requires all materials to be approved by the Elections Committee. However, section 1.05(g) does not specify the criteria by which the Committee can approve or disapprove of materials.
Section 1.05(k) of Bylaw 1: Elections further rules that “[t]here shall be no independently organized speeches.”
The authors found no cases of the student union discriminating against students or student groups on the basis of their speech, nor of the union denying access to space and resources to student groups because of their views.