Freedom of expression includes any activity that conveys or attempts to convey a meaning but does not include violence or the threat of violence or hate speech. Restrictions on freedom of expression can only be justified if they constitute a limit that is reasonable in a free and democratic society such as Canada. Expression that others find repugnant or offensive will not for that reason alone be unacceptable. OCAD University is concerned, however, with expression that causes discrimination or other harmful effects. Freedom of expression applies to all members of the University community, including faculty, students, staff, management and guests.

The University’s existing legislation and policies illustrate an appropriate application of these principles.

The Ontario College of Art & Design University Act, 2002 governs the University’s behaviour, even though it does not in a specific sense answer any particular question about the limits of freedom of expression. Its objects are: “to provide the opportunity and environment for advanced education in art and design at the undergraduate and graduate levels and to support teaching, research and professional practice in these fields.” (See Section 3.)

In March, 2010, a policy was enacted to deal with “respectful work & learning environments”. Its purpose, inter alia, as set out in section 1(1.1) is to “Develop and support a respectful work and learning environment that values and promotes principles of diversity and inclusion, and one that does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, and/or bullying.”

In particular, that policy provides the following:

“4. (4.2) RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

OCAD U recognizes the importance of certain rights and freedoms at a university dedicated to intellectual inquiry and creative practice. The University is committed to upholding all fundamental human rights, including freedom of association, freedom of conscience, opinion and belief, and freedom of thought, inquiry, artistic and creative expression. Nothing in this policy is to be interpreted, administered or applied in a way that infringes upon academic freedom, or upon legal conduct between individuals that is based on mutual consent. Nothing in this policy is to be understood to prevent any faculty, employee, or student, from instructing, evaluating and engaging in fair criticism or another’s behaviour of performance.”

This is to be read together with s.5.3 “Responsibility” which requires the University community to be “cognizant of the fact that working and learning can best be accomplished in a climate of understanding and mutual respect and that harassment and discrimination can occur even when there is no intention to harass or offend another person.”

And

“establishing, contributing to, and maintaining a respectful environment by demonstrating respect for others, and not be condoning and/or engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with the law or this policy.”

It mandates action by the University community that is consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code. It acknowledges that the University has a commitment “to academic freedom and freedom of thought, inquiry and expression which may result in respectful disagreements regarding beliefs and principles; and it cannot condone behaviour that is likely to undermine the dignity, self-esteem or productivity of any of its members….

“OCAD U is committed to an inclusive and respectful working and learning environment, free from harassment, discrimination and/or bullying.”

The University community, as part of its Non-Academic Misconduct Policy, June 1, 2009, prohibits the dissemination of “hate material” which includes “…literature and posters distributed to incite violence or hatred against an identifiable group.”

Violation of this policy thus is governed by the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy, June 1, 2009.

Students are subject to prosecution under that Policy. Faculty complaints will be dealt with in accordance with theMemorandum of Agreement 2016-2020, Article 5 and Appendix A: Association of University and Colleges of Canada Statement on Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy. Any allegation against the University itself will be dealt with in writing by the President of the University or the President’s delegate. Any unresolved complaint may be referred to the Ontario Ombudsman.

Academic freedom is central to this issue. OCAD University’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy commits the university to “…upholding all fundamental human rights, including freedom of association, freedom of conscience, opinion and belief, and freedom of thought, inquiry, artistic and creative expression.”

Universities are places for open discussion and free inquiry, and that is especially true of a university dedicated to art and design. Thus, members of the University community may debate and contest different views, but they may not obstruct or interfere with the freedom of expression of others. OCAD University is committed to protecting freedom of expression for all its members and guests.

The University provides services and facilities and thus is bound by the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Criminal Code of Canada, particularly s319. We recognize that both the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code of Canada do impose limits on expression and that our responsibility extends to ensuring compliance with this legislation.

Date: 
Monday, December 10, 2018 - 12:39pm
OCAD University
OCAD University Freedom of Expression Statement and Policies
Monday December 10th, 2018

Freedom of expression includes any activity that conveys or attempts to convey a meaning but does not include violence or the threat of violence or hate speech. Restrictions on freedom of expression can only be justified if they constitute a limit that is reasonable in a free and democratic society such as Canada. Expression that others find repugnant or offensive will not for that reason alone be unacceptable. OCAD University is concerned, however, with expression that causes discrimination or other harmful effects. Freedom of expression applies to all members of the University community, including faculty, students, staff, management and guests.

The University’s existing legislation and policies illustrate an appropriate application of these principles.

The Ontario College of Art & Design University Act, 2002 governs the University’s behaviour, even though it does not in a specific sense answer any particular question about the limits of freedom of expression. Its objects are: “to provide the opportunity and environment for advanced education in art and design at the undergraduate and graduate levels and to support teaching, research and professional practice in these fields.” (See Section 3.)

In March, 2010, a policy was enacted to deal with “respectful work & learning environments”. Its purpose, inter alia, as set out in section 1(1.1) is to “Develop and support a respectful work and learning environment that values and promotes principles of diversity and inclusion, and one that does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, and/or bullying.”

In particular, that policy provides the following:

“4. (4.2) RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

OCAD U recognizes the importance of certain rights and freedoms at a university dedicated to intellectual inquiry and creative practice. The University is committed to upholding all fundamental human rights, including freedom of association, freedom of conscience, opinion and belief, and freedom of thought, inquiry, artistic and creative expression. Nothing in this policy is to be interpreted, administered or applied in a way that infringes upon academic freedom, or upon legal conduct between individuals that is based on mutual consent. Nothing in this policy is to be understood to prevent any faculty, employee, or student, from instructing, evaluating and engaging in fair criticism or another’s behaviour of performance.”

This is to be read together with s.5.3 “Responsibility” which requires the University community to be “cognizant of the fact that working and learning can best be accomplished in a climate of understanding and mutual respect and that harassment and discrimination can occur even when there is no intention to harass or offend another person.”

And

“establishing, contributing to, and maintaining a respectful environment by demonstrating respect for others, and not be condoning and/or engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with the law or this policy.”

It mandates action by the University community that is consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code. It acknowledges that the University has a commitment “to academic freedom and freedom of thought, inquiry and expression which may result in respectful disagreements regarding beliefs and principles; and it cannot condone behaviour that is likely to undermine the dignity, self-esteem or productivity of any of its members….

“OCAD U is committed to an inclusive and respectful working and learning environment, free from harassment, discrimination and/or bullying.”

The University community, as part of its Non-Academic Misconduct Policy, June 1, 2009, prohibits the dissemination of “hate material” which includes “…literature and posters distributed to incite violence or hatred against an identifiable group.”

Violation of this policy thus is governed by the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy, June 1, 2009.

Students are subject to prosecution under that Policy. Faculty complaints will be dealt with in accordance with theMemorandum of Agreement 2016-2020, Article 5 and Appendix A: Association of University and Colleges of Canada Statement on Academic Freedom and Institutional Autonomy. Any allegation against the University itself will be dealt with in writing by the President of the University or the President’s delegate. Any unresolved complaint may be referred to the Ontario Ombudsman.

Academic freedom is central to this issue. OCAD University’s Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy commits the university to “…upholding all fundamental human rights, including freedom of association, freedom of conscience, opinion and belief, and freedom of thought, inquiry, artistic and creative expression.”

Universities are places for open discussion and free inquiry, and that is especially true of a university dedicated to art and design. Thus, members of the University community may debate and contest different views, but they may not obstruct or interfere with the freedom of expression of others. OCAD University is committed to protecting freedom of expression for all its members and guests.

The University provides services and facilities and thus is bound by the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Criminal Code of Canada, particularly s319. We recognize that both the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code of Canada do impose limits on expression and that our responsibility extends to ensuring compliance with this legislation.

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