|Student Union Policies
|Student Union Practices
The University of New Brunswick (UNB) lists “Academic freedom” as one of their institutional values.
Section 4(b) of the UNB’s Student Disciplinary Code sanctions students who “act or speak in a disorderly, disruptive, indecent or offensive manner”. The term “offensive” is not defined, allowing university administrators to interpret what constitutes “offensive” conduct. Sanctions include expulsion.
The Code also prohibits the “disruption or obstruction of any authorized activity, event, class or service of the University, or interference with any person’s rights to carry out legitimate activities, speak or associate with others.”
UNB has a Human Rights officer tasked with enforcing the Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, which prohibits any “comment or conduct that ought reasonably to be known to have the effect of creating an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment.” These prohibitions on “offensive” speech are subjective, and could be abused. However, section 7.01 the Declaration states that “[e]very member of the University community enjoys freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly.”
The Declaration also states that “[e]very member of the University community has a responsibility to treat all other members of the University community with respect and tolerance, and to contribute to a respectful learning and work environment.”
UNB’s Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy defines harassment as “comment or conduct that ought reasonably to be known to have the effect of creating an intimidating, humiliating, hostile or offensive working and learning environment.”
The website of UNB’s Office of Human Rights & Positive Environment states:
"The University of New Brunswick is committed to providing a positive learning and working environment, one in which all members of the community are respectful and respected as individuals. We strive to foster a welcoming and supportive community, where every person feels empowered to contribute". (UNB Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities) & "The University is committed to creating and maintaining an environment for all of its students and employees that is free of objectionable and disrespectful conduct." (UNB Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Harassment Policy)
As the primary champion of the University’s Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, the Office of Human Rights and Positive Environment provides free services on both the Fredericton and Saint John campuses. It provides leadership and support for initiatives and policies that contribute to a positive, healthy, equitable, respectful and inclusive campus environment.
This includes training sessions on “Inclusive Language”and “Positive Spaces.”
Ricardo Duchesne was a sociology professor at the University of New Brunswick. In June of 2014, Duchesne was reprimanded by the University after at least one complaint was filed against him for comments made at eurocanadian.ca, a website he runs for his organization, the Council of European Canadians. In a May 26 post titled “Chinese Head Tax, White Apologies, and ‘Inclusive Redress”, Duchesne asserted that Chinese Canadians are manipulating “white guilt”.
Vancouver councilor Kerry Jang filed a complaint against Duchesne with UNB in early June. UNB prohibited Duchesne from using UNB’s name or his UNB affiliation when voicing his political views via his blog and email. In January of 2015, UNB’s Vice President for its Saint John campus, Robert MacKinnon, publicly defended Duchesne’s academic freedom against Jang’s complaint.
On May 18, 2019, the Huffington Post published an article titled “Ricardo Duchesne Is A University Of New Brunswick Professor. He's Also A White Supremacist.” On May 22, UNB Vice-President Petra Hauf confirmed that Duchesne was under investigation:
At UNB, we have a strong commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and respect. I want to assure all members of our community that we are aware of the concerns that have been publicly shared with respect to these issues; that we are taking them seriously and are actively looking into them.
On May 29, the Huffington Post followed up by publishing an open letter that condemned Dr. Duchesne, signed by 113 faculty members across 26 programs at UNB. The letter stated Duchesne’s views are “racist” and “without academic merit.”
As reported by Ken Westhues,
As late as 30 May, Duchesne was quoted as saying he had done nothing wrong and had no intention to resign...But then on 4 June, UNB announced that Duchesne had given notice of early retirement.
In a June 4, 2019, statement, UNB confirmed that Duchesne was no longer with the university.
The UNB Student Union’s (UNBSU) Mission, Vision, and 2019-2020 Strategic Plan do not address freedom of expression.
The UNBSU Clubs and Societies Policy denies “Ratified Status” along with the funding and promotional support made available with such status, to religious clubs and to clubs affiliated with a political party. It also states that clubs “must be open to all members of the Union.”
UNBSU has discretion to withhold “Ratified Status” from any club or society if it deems the group “ineligible”, which leaves the door open to censorship and discrimination against clubs on the basis of the content of their expression.
Bylaw No. 2 governs elections for UNBSU positions. The Bylaw establishes the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) who is empowered to enact special rules that could impose censorship on candidates and students:
UNBSU does not take political positions on issues unrelated to its mandate.
The authors are not aware of any cases of the Student Union having restricted or censored speech on campus, or having discriminated against particular students or clubs on the basis of the content of their expression.
In the 2018–19 financial year,* the University of New Brunswick received $121,604,000 in taxpayer dollars in the form of government grants. These taxpayer funds accounted for 37.8% of their annual revenue.
*The University of New Brunswick did not make their 2019–20 financial statements available by the time of publication of the 2020 Campus Freedom Index.