The University of Calgary recently attempted to censor and intimidate a group of its own students who wished to engage in a civil expression of their ideas by placing a pictorial display in a public area of campus.
Such lawful expression is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is in keeping with the University’s own mission to “seek truth and disseminate knowledge.” Now that the University’s censorship and intimidation tactics have failed, it has decided to maliciously charge and prosecute the same students for trespassing. Ironically, the University has no institutional definition of offensive images and no rules for how to display sensitive material. The University’s actions are arbitrary and discriminatory.
The purpose of universities is to provide a safe environment in which students and faculty can freely explore various ideas and opinions in the pursuit of truth. This can only be done in an atmosphere of liberty and tolerance of all lawful expression. The University of Calgary has not only failed to adhere to standards set down by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and by its own mission statement, but has set aside the long-established tradition of Academic Freedom.
Insofar as the University of Calgary is a publicly-funded institution, it has also broken the public trust of all Albertans.
In light of these actions committed by the University, we, the undersigned, demand
a) that all students be refunded individually and proportionately whatever amounts of their tuition the University has spent on legal fees against all and any students in order to limit or stifle their constitutionally-granted right to Free Speech and
b) that the University of Calgary President, Harvey P. Weingarten, on behalf of the institution issues a public apology along with the guarantee that the University of Calgary in the future shall actively protect the freedom of expression, academic freedoms and the standards set for all citizens by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Keep Free Speech in the University of Calgary petition to University of Calgary Board of Governors was written by Carla Heinrichs and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.