Response to the Draft Freedom of Speech Policy

Preamble

Carleton University’s draft Freedom of Speech policy in its current form is cause for concern to our Graduate students.

The Ford government’s directive with respect to establishing a free speech policy on campus is dangerous since it presents a serious threat to university autonomy and student organizing.

The GSA appreciates that the timeline given by the Ford government does not allow for much study or the thorough consideration necessary for the drafting of a good policy. However, it is disappointing to see that the Carleton Senate task force is using some of the same rhetoric from the directive outlined by the province.

Doug Ford did not consult with any student unions or the Canadian Federation Students of Ontario, an organization that represents over 350,000 students in Ontario.

The policy has the potential to police and destroy independence of student organizations. This has a direct impact on students’ freedom of association, and ironically, freedom of speech.

The biggest threat to freedom of speech is a bullying government that is not afraid to use the notwithstanding clause to trample on fundamental freedoms.

Carleton University must reaffirm that the Board of Governors and the Senate are the governing bodies of the University, not the Ontario PC Party.

Carleton University must also ensure that it does not adopt policy that contravenes its legal agreements with students’ associations. Contracts, such as the Administrative Agreement between Carleton University and the Graduate Students’ Association, must be respected.  

Therefore we would like to ask the Senate task force to consider the changes outlined below.

Required Changes to the Carleton policy

  • Striking “The University will consider a student organization’s compliance with this policy as condition for ongoing financial support or recognition pursuant to the Accreditation of Student Organizations Policy.”
  • Adding “This policy does not supersede the legal relationship that exists between the university and its student associations: the Carleton University Students Association, the Graduate Students’ Association, and the Rideau River Residence Association.”
  • An assertion of the autonomy of Carleton University governing bodies.