|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
In November 2018, to meet its obligations to the Ontario government, Saint Paul University passed a new Free Expression Policy which states:
Freedom of expression is one of the values that define Saint Paul University. Indeed, the University encourages open dialogue enabling critical thought, supported by intellectual integrity and ethical judgment.
On the basis of this statement of principle, no one is to suffer reprisal for expressing their opinions. This freedom of expression is, however, governed by various University regulations and policies, as well as by municipal, provincial and federal regulations and laws. In particular, the University expects everyone to:
The University does not have any formal policies regulating non-academic student behaviour, nor does it have a policy expressly preventing the University from charging security fees to students hosting discussions or lectures on controversial subjects.
The University’s policy on Prevention of Harassment and Violence defines and prohibits ‘Psychological Harassment’:
Psychological harassment is manifested through repeated hostile or unwanted behaviours, words, actions or acts that violate the dignity or the psychological or physical integrity of a member of the University community and that create, for that person, a harmful work or study environment.
A single serious incident of such behaviour can also be considered psychological harassment if it involves such a violation and results in ongoing harmful effects for a member of the University community.
Among the behaviours that could be considered psychological harassment are:
The Harassment Prevention Committee enforces this policy and facilitates harassment prevention programs of the University. The Committee provides a definition of harassment:
In November of 2017, Saint Paul University (SPU) cancelled a contracted screening of an award-winning documentary film. The film, Vessel, tells the story of Rebecca Gomperts, a doctor who began providing abortions at sea after witnessing the dangers women seeking abortions face in countries where the procedure is illegal.
Since 2011, organizers behind the festival Choice have booked the amphitheater at Saint Paul University to host panels and film screenings with the goal of sparking discussion and better awareness of the options available in birth and child-rearing. Past films have included documentaries about breastfeeding, maternal mental health, myths about childbirth and different methods of giving birth.
A spokesperson for Saint Paul University reported to media that “the decision was made to ask the organizers to find a different venue because the university has a policy of not holding events on campus that could be polarizing or that have the potential to bring protesters.”
In March of 2011, Saint Paul’s University invited then-secretary general of Amnesty International, Alex Neve, to give the keynote address at an event to mark the opening of the University’s new Centre for Conflict Studies.
The talk, Resolving and Preventing Conflict: The ‘Rights’ Way, was opposed by some alumni and faculty of Saint Paul’s, due to statements Mr. Neve had made in support of abortion. The University did not officially respond to the complaints, but the event went on as scheduled and without interruption.
Saint Paul’s University Students’ Association (SPUSA) includes in its Goals “[t]o encourage and promote initiatives of an academic, socio-cultural and liturgical nature among its members.”
The SPUSA defers management of non-academic student life, including student organizations and events, to the University and its policies. SPUSA does not take political stances on issues outside of its mandate.
The authors are not aware of cases of the Saint Paul’s University Students’ Association limiting or restricting campus free speech rights, or discriminating against students or clubs on the basis of their opinion. However, the Students' Association failed to defend free expression against the University's decision to cancel a film screening on campus.