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Sheridan College adopts new policy on free speech

Dec 17, 2018
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Sheridan has adopted a new policy on free speech that has also been endorsed by all of Ontario’s 24 colleges.

“The free exchange of ideas is fundamental to the success of higher education,” said Dr. Janet Morrison, Sheridan’s President and Vice Chancellor. “This policy codifies the existing practice of respectful discourse and debate, professionalism, civility, and freedom of expression that is already commonplace at Sheridan.”

The policy was developed by a task force of senior college leaders in collaboration with the College Student Alliance, legal experts and others. It was approved at a recent meeting of Ontario’s college presidents and is to be posted at every college by January 1, 2019.

The policy statement is primarily based on the University of Chicago’s Statement on Principles of Free Expression and has five core elements:

  • A definition of freedom of speech.
  • A commitment to allow open discussion and free inquiry.
  • A statement that it is not the colleges’ role to shield members of the college community from ideas they disagree with.
  • A statement that while members of the college community are free to contest the views of others, they must also respect the rights of others to express their views.
  • An affirmation that speech that violates the law is not allowed.

The policy describes the procedures for handling complaints and ensuring compliance. Once it takes effect on January 1, it will apply to the entire college community.

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