Statement on Free Expression
Chair & General Counsel
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)
Associate Vice-President (Research)
Senior Director, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning
Associate Vice President (Strategic Communications)
Students' Union President
Vice President External, Graduate Students' Association
Earlier this year, the Government of Alberta asked all 26 post-secondary institutions to draft a policy on free expression that aligns with the basic tenets of the Chicago Principles. In response to this directive, UCalgary formed the Free Expression Committee to develop a statement on free expression for our university with the input of many stakeholders.
The Free Expression Committee was formed in June 2019 to draft a statement and implement a campus-wide consultation process. Consultation took place between September and November 2019. The statement was finalized and submitted to the Government of Alberta on November 13, 2019 and approved on December 4, 2019. The Statement on Free Expression was approved by the Board of Governors on December 13, 2019.
UCalgary is committed to fostering an environment of free inquiry, open debate and diversity of opinion. The university supports students and others sharing their views about subjects — including those that are controversial — in a safe and respectful manner.
Free expression is subject to limitations imposed by law and, on our campuses, by university policies and procedures related to the functioning of the university. Expression that constitutes hate speech, a genuine threat or harassment, discrimination, defamation, an unjustified invasion of privacy or reveals confidential information are examples of expression that are prohibited by law.
UCalgary strives to create a campus culture that is inclusive and respectful – one that values diversity and the dignity of every person.
Hate speech in Canada is defined in Section 319(1) of the Federal Criminal Code and states that it is an offence to communicate statements in a public place that incites hatred against an identifiable group and is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.
The teaching of controversial subjects presents an opportunity to expose students to a wide variety of perspectives, and to provide them with tools to analyze issues and communicate across differences. The Taylor Institute offers workshops and resources on teaching controversial issues.
The Statement on Free Expression provides a broad set of guidelines to manage how individuals or groups of individuals express themselves in the context of our university. Academic freedom focusses specifically on activities pursued by academic staff.
UCalgary’s definition of academic freedom can be found in Article 6 of the Collective Agreement between the Faculty Association of the University of Calgary and the Governors of the University of Calgary
A statement, in narrative form, was developed to ensure that the principles governing free expression were very clear and easy to understand.
If someone does not comply with the Statement on Free Expression and the non-compliance violates a university policy or code of conduct (for example, the Harassment Policy, the Sexual Violence Policy, the Code of Conduct, the Student Non-Academic Misconduct Policy), the non-compliance will be dealt with under the applicable policy and related procedure.
This Statement applies to individuals and organizations on our campuses in Canada, including individuals and organizations external to the university. The use of university facilities for activities or events does not imply the university’s endorsement of any expressed views or positions.
The concept of free expression is a foundational principle of all great universities. The University of Calgary is committed to fostering an environment of free inquiry, open debate and diversity of opinions.
The right to free expression does include the freedom to critique and contest the expression of others – but it does not extend to efforts to obstruct or prevent the free expression of others. The university expects that the freedom to critique and contest the expression of others in research, teaching, learning, and other settings, will be exercised in a manner that is in keeping with the university’s environment of respect and civility.