Over the past few years, the debate about freedom of speech on university campuses has intensified. Often sparked by high profile and provocative speakers from outside the academy, this debate has focused on expression rights, whether some groups have more privileged rights than others, how exercising these rights can harm certain individuals or groups, and whether reactions to certain speakers or events constitute censorship.
Does inviting a provocative speaker to campus really provide the best test of whether free speech is alive and well at our universities? Does threatening to discipline individuals and cut institutional funding create better speech on campus or silence faculty, students, and staff?
In the latest issue of Academic Matters, we have brought together a stellar group of scholars to consider these questions and what the answers mean for the future of the academy.
Free speech and the battle for the university
Speaking from personal experience, Shannon Dea recounts how the Faculty Association at the University of Waterloo responded to a controversial speaker who came to campus. How did the faculty association avoid the “free speech trap”?
Understanding the right to freedom of expression and its place on campus
As campus speech controversies flare up in the media, Richard Moon provides insight into the legal landscape of the debate. How can universities foster an inclusive campus that balances the expression rights of different community members?
Debwewin: To speak the truth – Nishnabek de’bwewin: Telling our truths
David Newhouse offers a thoughtful overview of indigenous perspectives on truth, academic freedom, and tenure, which have only recently started to be meaningfully reflected in academic discourse.
Freedom with limits? The role faculty associations play protecting the speech rights of their members
Although the campus speech debate presents new challenges, Michelle Webber and Linda Rose-Krasnor describe the tools faculty associations already have to protect the rights of their members and support other members of the campus community.
A manufactured crisis: the Ford government’s troubling free speech mandate
Examining the directive from the provincial government requiring universities and colleges to develop new free speech policies, James L. Turk questions the political agenda driving these policies and whether they are even needed.
The alt-right and the weaponization of free speech on campus
Jasmin Zine provides a compelling argument that, far from providing space for new voices, the free speech debate is actually being used to normalize hate and bigotry and suppress already marginalized voices on campus.
We were a strong union before Janus, and we will be a strong union after Janus
Andrea Calver discusses her time working with the California Faculty Association in its efforts to mobilize its membership and build a stronger union in the shadow of a recent US law that weakens union rights.