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What input did the task force consider as part of its process?

As part of its deliberations, the task force considered input from numerous sources, including more than 300 feedback submissions from students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the broader community on the initial draft statement. The task force held numerous consultations with legal experts, academics who study free expression, and knowledgeable individuals from other postsecondary institutions. The task force also reviewed examples of statements on free expression from other institutions. After the draft statement was released, the task force received input from more than 200 feedback submissions from students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the broader community, prior to releasing a final revised draft statement for Senate’s consideration.

Who are the experts that the task force is hearing from?

To date, the task force has received presentations and input from the following experts:

  • Paul Axelrod, former dean of Education, York University and professor emeritus, Education and History
  • Sigal R. Ben-Porath, professor of Education, Political Science and Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
  • Neil Guppy, senior advisor to the provosts on academic freedom, University of British Columbia
  • James Kitchen, staff lawyer, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
  • Richard Moon, professor, Law, University of Windsor
  • Bruce Pardy, professor, Law, Queen's University
  • James Turk, director, Centre for Free Expression and distinguished visiting professor, Ryerson University
  • Nandini Ramanujam, associate professor, Faculty of Law, and executive director and program director, Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, McGill University

The task force also received input from the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association and the university’s in-house legal counsel.

What are the next steps for Laurier’s draft statement on freedom of expression?

The task force presented a recommended statement to the university Senate on May 22 for discussion at the May 29 meeting of Senate.

What happens when the statement is approved?

Once Senate approves a final version of the statement the university will undertake the important work of operationalizing the statement. This will likely require additional discussion and work involving related protocols and policies. However, it is important to highlight that the draft statement is an affirmation of underlying principles of the university. It does not represent a radical departure from the university’s stance to date, but rather provides helpful clarification regarding the roles and responsibilities of all members of the Laurier community.

What impact will the statement have on disagreements over matters related to free expression on campus?

The task force recognizes that Laurier’s commitment to diversity and inclusion means that our community of individuals bring a wide range of perspectives, ideas, and worldviews to any debate, including this one. It is precisely that diversity of viewpoints that makes for a vibrant and stimulating academic community. The adoption of a final statement will not lead to 100% consensus on any issues. The task force’s aspiration through this statement is to establish conditions under which the free exchange of ideas can occur, and opposing ideas can be expressed in a meaningful and impactful manner.

Who is on the task force, and how were they chosen?

The task force includes 13 individuals with representation from faculty (54%) students (23%) and administration (23%). For more information, please see the Terms of Reference.

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