|Year||University Policies||University Practices||Student Union Policies||Student Union Practices|
The University of Victoria’s (UVic) Strategic Framework includes “Freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech” as core values.
The purpose of the UVic’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy is “to prevent Discrimination and Harassment from taking place, and to act upon complaints of such behaviour promptly, fairly, judiciously and with due regard to confidentiality for all parties concerned.” UVic’s Equity and Human Rights office processes complaints, and works with students and staff, and their responsibilities include offering Confidential Consultations, providing all parties in the complaint with guidance and advice, and processing complaints fairly. Personal Harassment is defined as:
Personal Harassment : behaviour directed towards members of the University Community that would be characterized by a reasonable person as:
Personal Harassment is not:
The Discrimination and Harassment Policy does provide the following protection to academic freedom:
The university recognizes academic freedom as a fundamental value, and this policy shall not be interpreted or applied to impose on the legitimate academic freedom of any Member of the University Community…In exercising academic freedom, Members of the University Community must act in a responsible and reasonable manner and respect the rights of other Members of the University Community.
In May 2011, UVic passed a Student Non-Academic Misconduct Policy. Misconduct is defined as “including but not limited to “disruptive or dangerous behaviours”. Under “Implementation” thePolicy says it will not be used in a way that:
UVic’s prohibition on harassment, which prohibits “interfering with the targeted person’s participation in a University Related Activity” amounts to an anti-disruption policy.
In March of 2017, the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) and a student group called “Third Party” sponsored an educational event designed to generate discussion about white supremacy by placing a large whiteboard on campus and asking students to answer the question “How do you challenge white supremacy?” by writing on the board. Complaints were raised by a number of students about some of the phrases on the wall, including the phrase “Whities Get Out”. The University of Victoria resisted calls to shut down the display and the event proceeded without interruption.
On November 16, 2017, the campus student group Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) erected a display in UVic’s “Quad”, consisting of 10,000 small blue and pink flags planted into the ground (the “Flag Display”). The flags represent the 100,000 abortions that take place in Canada on a yearly basis. The purpose of the display was to raise awareness of the fact that Canada has no law regulating abortion. YPY was approved to erect the Flag Display at approximately 6:30AM, with the event scheduled to begin at 8:00AM, and dismantle the Flag Display at approximately 2:30PM, with the event scheduled to conclude at 3:00PM.
The Flag Display was booked by YPY November 2. Shortly after receiving the space booking confirmation from UVic on November 15, YPY emailed Campus Security to notify them of the event. At about noon, UVic students began to gather near the Flag Display to protest the Flag Display. Some of the protestors became verbally aggressive and told YPY members that they would remove the flags themselves if YPY refused to do so. Many protestors then began pulling up the flags and putting them in piles.
As the protestors began to destroy the Flag Display, YPY called Campus Security. YPY asked Campus Security to intervene to prevent their property from being vandalized, but the two officers simply stood and watched the protestors destroy YPY’s Flag Display. When YPY asked the officers why they were not protecting the Flag Display from vandalism, the officers responded that they must remain “neutral” and that they could not take action to protect the Flag Display because it could be interpreted as Campus Security taking a position in support of YPY. The officers further explained that intervention could “escalate” the situation.
By mid-afternoon the Flag Display was completely destroyed by the protestors.
John Derry, associate director of UVic’s Office of Student Life, Division of Student Affairs, made a statement apologizing for the miscommunication:
“[The Office of Student Life is] aware of the potential impact when groups like this hold events on campus, and we provided notification to many units across campus but, in this case, did not notify the UVSS in a timely way as we have in the past. This has been corrected and will not happen again.”
The University approved a permit for the same event to take place in the winter 2018 semester. This second rendition of the event took place without interruption in the Quad on February 22, 2018.
In the spring term of the 2012-13 school year, U-Vic cancelled an event planned by the campus pro-life group Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), an event which U-Vic had previously approved. U-Vic then disciplined YPY for proceeding with its event as planned and approved, which resulted in a court action against U-Vic by Cam Cote, then president of YPY.
In January of 2013, YPY submitted another formal booking request to the U-Vic administration, to conduct the same “Choice” Chain peaceful demonstration with signs and literature distribution on February 1, 2013. The request was submitted at least ten business days prior to the event. YPY club leaders met with U-Vic officials, did a full walk around of the approved location, and discussed various issues. U-Vic approved the event to go ahead on February 1, 2013, and YPY planned accordingly.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. on January 31, 2013, the day before this approved event was scheduled to take place, Jim Dunsdon, Vice-President of U-Vic Student Affairs and one of the representatives that YPY had met with in the planning of the event, phoned the president of YPY and informed him that their peaceful demonstration could not proceed because the UVSS had informed him that YPY, as a UVSS club, had been banned from hosting “Choice” Chain on campus. But UVSS’s purported “ban” (see fourth section of this report) had already expired.
Nevertheless, Mr. Dunsdon insisted that YPY’s approved event could not proceed unless the UVSS’s now-expired ban was “reversed”.
On February 1, 2013, eight members of YPY proceeded to do "Choice" Chain at the campus location approved by U-Vic, and conducted the event exactly as it had been planned and discussed.
On March 1st, 2013, the YPY club president received a letter from the U-Vic administration stating that because YPY had held an unapproved public event, U-Vic was taking away YPY's public booking privileges for one year.
These events culminated in YPY launching a court action against the University. The BC Court of Appeal heard oral argument on February 4 and 5, 2016, and rendered its decision on April 18, 2016. The Court of Appeal dismissed the students’ argument that the Charter applies to public universities, ruling that public, taxpayer-funded universities are not government entities.
The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) Poster Policy states:
All postering in the SUB and on UVSS poster boards located in the University must be in compliance with University Policy BP3105 Building Usage.
Posters which have the effect or purpose of unreasonably creating a hostile, intimidating, threatening, or humiliating environment will not be approved for posting. In the instance that UVSS Info Booth staff are uncertain whether a poster meets this criteria, they shall consult with the Executive Committee for clarification.
Posters where the content discriminates against a person or group of persons on the basis of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, nationality, religion, family or marital status, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, age, sex, sexuality, gender, gender identity, appearance or conviction for a criminal charge will not be approved for posting...
In instances where posters that violate the terms of this policy are stamped for approval, they may be removed at the discretion of the Executive Committee. If a poster is removed, the Executive Committee must inform the Board of Directors and the group or individual who put the poster up. The decision of the Executive Committee may be appealed to the Board of Directors.
UVSS has a Clubs Policy, the purpose of which includes supporting “ideological diversity” and promoting “an environment within which all members of the University Community can fully participate in respectful debate and the sharing of ideas.” The UVSS Clubs Policy defines Harassment as:
the abusive, unfair, or demeaning treatment of a person or group of persons that has the effect or purpose of unreasonably creating a hostile, intimidating, threatening, or humiliating environment. It is not necessary for the club or club representative to intend for the conduct to produce feelings of fear or intimidation, only that the club or club representative reasonably ought to have known that the conduct would cause such feelings.
Part F of the Clubs Policy prohibits clubs from engaging in harassment, defined as “the abusive, unfair, or demeaning treatment of a person or group of persons that has the effect or purpose of unreasonably creating a hostile, intimidating, threatening, or humiliating environment.”
The Clubs Policy further requires that “Each club must allow any interested student to join the club.”
The UVSS Issues Policy sets out positions that the UVSS takes on public policy issues. For example, the UVSS opposes “the implementation of any new abortion law,” supports Canada’s withdrawal from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Northern Radar Air Defence,” and opposes “the militarization of Canadian Society”.
UVSS’s Electoral Policy limits the number of banners and posters a candidate can have and requires that candidates comply with the Poster Policy above. Candidates are also limited in the amount of money they can spend on their campaigns.
Following the vandalism of a pro-life flag display on the Quad in November 2017, the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) issued a statement on Facebook which read:
As a lot of you are aware yesterday morning YPY (Youth Protecting Youth) put up thousands of flags in the Quad in protest of an individual’s right to choose. We at the UVSS stand together with the majority of students in saying that we fundamentally disagree with YPY on this issue. We wholeheartedly support the reproductive freedom of folks in making their own decisions surrounding abortions.
Furthermore, we are incredibly displeased with the way that the University has handled the issue. Due to the fact that we are held legally liable for the actions of clubs which has previously caused issues with certain clubs, the University has a policy where they give notice when a club has booked one of their spaces. However in the negotiations to do this demonstration, the University administration did not inform us in any capacity of this until Wednesday at 3pm. This prohibited us from making arrangements with the folks at the Anti-Violence Project to prepare for the fact that some might find this event to be triggering.
We hope that in the future the University is clear and forthcoming to students about what’s happening on campus, especially with something that can so profoundly affect students in a negative way. Furthermore, we hope to work with the University to ensure that the proper supports are made available when controversial displays are placed on university grounds. If anyone found this particular display to be triggering, we urge you to access the supports made available to you on campus. This includes both the Anti-Violence Project and Counselling Services.
On October 7, 2015, the Undergraduate Political Science course union, a registered group with the UVSS, received approval for a grant from the Course Union Council, an administrative body of the UVSS. The Course Union had applied for a grant from the UVSS to assist with costs related to hosting the annual conference of the National Political Science Students Association. The topic of the conference, running January 27-31, 2016, was “Modern Discourses on Sovereignty: Land, Bodies, and Borders”.
On November 2, 2015, at the meeting of the UVSS Board of Directors where the Course Union Council’s grant was to be voted upon, a representative of the Native Student Union, a registered student group on campus, took issue with the conference title and “could not condone funding a conference on sovereignty when nobody involved in the planning reached out to indigenous groups on campus for their consent.” The UVSS Board voted unanimously to reject funding for the conference.
In December 2012, the UVSS Board passed a motion finding that the Catholic Students' Association (CSA), a UVSS club, had violated the UVSS Clubs Policy by distributing three leaflets during Clubs Days, entitled “Pure Manhood,” “Pure Womanhood” and “Pure Love.” The ruling came after complaints about the pamphlet were submitted to Megan Quigley, the UVSS Director of Student Affairs. The complaints were discussed by the UVSS Complaints Committee in camera, but the motion implies that the club’s leaflets were considered “harassment” by UVSS. UVSS mandated that the CSA write a formal apology to the student population for distributing the leaflets, and has also requested that the CSA “engage in a conversation facilitated by an external party regarding oppressive language, systemic violence and consent,” to which club members did not comply. CSA members planned to appeal the decision at an October 17, 2013, Annual General Meeting of the UVSS, but the meeting failed to reach quorum. Further attempts were made by UVSS to hold a meeting to discuss the appeal, but quorum was not reached on either occasion.
After UVSS Board of Directors elections in 2014, the new Board voted to rescind the December 2012 motion against the CSA.