|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
While “diversity and inclusion” and “indigenization” are listed among the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Priorities, free expression is not. Likewise, “reconciliation” and “diversity” are mentioned in the stated Mission, Vision, and Values, but free expression is not.
USask does list “freedom of expression” as one of its six “Guiding Principles” in the Standard of Student Conduct in Non-Academic Matters:
The University of Saskatchewan is committed to free speech as a fundamental right. Students have the right to express their views and to test and challenge ideas, provided they do so within the law and in a peaceful and non-threatening manner that does not disrupt the welfare and proper functioning of the University. The University encourages civic participation and open debate on issues of local, national and international importance. One person’s strongly held view does not take precedence over another’s right to hold and express the opposite opinion in a lawful manner.
The Standard of Student Conduct in Non-Academic Matters also states “The University of Saskatchewan values diversity and is committed to promoting a culture of mutual respect and inclusiveness on campus” and “The University of Saskatchewan values peace and nonviolence. Physical or psychological assaults of any kind or threats of violence or harm will not be tolerated.”
USask’s Access and Equity Services deals principally with accessibility issues and not ideological advocacy.
The authors are unaware of the University of Saskatchewan censoring speech, or discriminating against students or student clubs on the basis of the content of their expression.
The University of Saskatchewan Students Union (USSU) passed a new policy in 2013 that states unequivocally that the USSU upholds the free expression rights of students on campus. This Free Speech Policy, developed with input and advice from the Justice Centre, commits the USSU to refrain from content-based censorship against students and student groups. The Free Speech Policy reads:
…the Student Union will support and protect the free speech of all parties under its jurisdiction. The Student Union will not endeavor to limit or prevent the exercise of free speech on campus and will work to aid those parties whose free speech rights are threatened. The Union further recognizes the fair and reasonable limitations on free expression as stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada and pledges not to exercise censorship outside of these legal limits. When members of the Union use speech as a direct attack that has the effect of preventing the lawful exercise of speech by members or invited guests, or interfering with the conduct of authorized University business, the Student Union may intervene…
…The right to free speech is complemented by the right of freedom of association. The right to free speech extends to individuals cooperating in groups. All members have the freedom to communicate in any reasonable way, to hold and advertise meetings, to debate and to engage in peaceful assemblies and demonstrations, to organize groups for any lawful activities and to make reasonable use of Student Union facilities.
The USSU Campus Group Policy states in Article D, Section 1:
In the event that a ratified campus group engages in behaviour that is considered to be in violation of federal or provincial human rights laws, university policy, or is otherwise deemed to be unfit for an inclusive, welcoming, and open learning environment, the USSU reserves the right to take action against said group. In particular, each student has the right not to be harassed or otherwise made to feel discomfort by another.
USSU’s Space Rental Policy states that “The Students’ Union reserves the right to refuse or cancel any booking at any time.”
The Poster Policy states “Signage with offensive language or obscene pictures will not be approved for posting.”
THe USSU Election Bylaw, Section 52 – “Campaigning”, states:
(5) No candidate or representative shall deliver campaign speeches in regularly scheduled classes, labs, computer labs, or University Culinary Services locations and food courts, except during scheduled election forums.
(6) No candidate or representative shall engage in door-to-door soliciting within University residence buildings.
(7) No candidate or representative shall release campaign materials, including electronic materials, unless the materials have been approved by the Assistant Chief Returning Officer or the General Manager or designate.
USSU does not take official stances outside its mandate.
The University of Saskatchewan Students for Life (USSL) was temporarily denied club status by the USSU in the fall of 2009, and reinstated only subject to conditions and restrictions not imposed on any other campus group. An article written on the incident discusses “mediation” meetings that the club executive had to attend with the Union before their club would be ratified:
The trio discussed complaints that had been lodged against the USSL during the 2008-2009 academic year. One complainant alleged that a USSL club member manning an information table “applauded” a woman who walked by with a child; another complainant alleged that the USSL (and other groups on campus) approached people who did not wish to be approached. Another complaint (brought forward by the Women’s Centre on behalf of an individual female) accused the pro-life group of making women feel “unsafe” by displaying “disturbing” graphic images without giving any prior warning to students. (The images were photographs of healthy, living babies, 'in utero' and up to two years old.)
The USSU allowed the USSL club to retain its official status on the condition that it inform the campus Women’s Centre of every public event it intended to put on, and refrain from using “offensive” or “graphic” pictures – a condition not imposed on any other campus club. Further, the club’s expression is required not to “incite anger” or “provoke” anyone. In April 2011, USSL was able to host a lecture successfully, with Dr. Clement Persaud presenting to students on the subject of embryonic stem cells. Since 2011, USSL continues to be active on campus, hosting marches, documentaries and other events.
In the 2018–19 financial year,* the University of Saskatchewan received $610,714,000 in taxpayer dollars in the form of government grants. These taxpayer funds accounted for 56.6% of their annual revenue.
*The University of Saskatchewan did not make their 2019–20 financial statements available by the time of publication of the 2020 Campus Freedom Index.