Students Respond to Free Speech Policy Mandate

August 30, 2018

TORONTO, ON - Today, the Ontario government announced that post-secondary institutions in Ontario will be required to develop free speech policies by January 1, 2019.

The policies must meet a minimum standard that will be set by the government, and will be required to protect free speech on campus, while still ensuring that discrimination, hate speech, and other illegal forms of expression are prohibited from occurring on post-secondary campuses. Following the implementation of these policies, post-secondary institutions will be required to annually report their progress to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

"As these policies are implemented, it is important that students remain at the forefront of their development," said Julia Göllner, Vice President Administration & Human Resources of OUSA and student at Queen's University. "Ensuring our students are protected from discrimination and hate speech is essential for our post-secondary campuses to remain a place where all students feel safe to express their opinions and continue to grow as individuals."

OUSA believes that as these policies develop on campus, students should be actively engaged as a primary stakeholder during their creation and implementation. OUSA looks forward to working with Minister Fullerton and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities as reporting practices and minimum standards are created. All students are entitled to safety, inclusion and respect on their campuses, and OUSA believes that the provincial government plays a significant role in setting standards to protect members of post-secondary communities from all forms of discrimination.

“Our priority is ensuring that students are part of the conversation when it comes to implementing this policy. As Minister Fullerton, PA Piccini, and their team fulfill their campaign commitment, we at OUSA are looking forward to engaging with them, ensuring that these changes are in the best interest of Ontario’s students,” said Danny Chang, President of OUSA and student at Western University. “Moving forward, we are committed to ensuring that the university experience for students is not impacted by any potential changes to grant funding.”

OUSA has actively advocated for funding reforms to Ontario’s universities. Since 2010, student fees have accounted for over 50% of universities’ operating budgets, and student contributions have continued to outpace government contributions annually. It is essential that moving forward, the government ensures that any funding tied to this policy does not negatively impact the high quality educational experience students expect of their post-secondary institutions. We look forward to working with the government as these policies are developed and implemented.

For more details on the government’s mandate, read the government announcement here.

For more information on OUSA’s policies, visit our policy library.

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OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations a cross Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.

 

Colin Aitchison                                                 
Media Contact
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance
416-341-9948
colin@ousa.ca