University Secretariat and Legal Counsel

University Secretariat and Legal Counsel
University Secretariat and Legal Counsel

Free Expression at Queen's University

Reporting Table: Annual Report (January 1, 2019 to August 31, 2019) – Implementation of Free Expression at Queen’s University Policy

Category: Administration and Operations

Approval: Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Responsibility: Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Date initially approved: December 18, 2018

Purpose/Reason for Policy:

This policy affirms the University’s position on the rights and responsibilities of individuals associated with free expression at Queen’s University, which includes the right of any person, group, or community to communicate opinions and ideas without interference, censorship, or sanction, including the right to engage in peaceful protest about the content of the free expression of others.   

Policy Statement:

Open inquiry and the freedom to speak, write, listen, and learn are foundational principles on which Queen’s University is built.  As such, the University is committed to providing an environment conducive to open dialogue and debate. The University is also committed to the principle that it should not restrict the expression of ideas or opinions that may be disturbing, offensive, or unpopular. Failure to explore or confront ideas with which we disagree through disciplined and respectful dialogue, debate, and argument, does society a disservice, weakens our intellectual integrity, and threatens the very core of the University. Both free expression and the achievement of social goals are possible, and challenging one’s agenda should be viewed as an opportunity to strengthen and enrich this position, and when needed, change it.

Queen’s students, faculty, staff, and visitors have the right to exercise free expression at the University.  Equally, others are free to criticize and contest views expressed at the University by such means as peaceful assemblies, demonstrations, and protests, provided that they do not obstruct free expression protected by this policy.

Scope of this Policy:

This policy applies to those who lawfully use University facilities and resources in accordance with applicable University policies, including individuals, and organizations external to Queen's that have obtained approval to use University facilities or resources for a meeting, event, gathering, or other similar purpose.

The rights to exercise free expression and to criticize the free expression of others are subject to any collective agreements between the University and employee groups, and University policies that pertain to acceptable conduct at the University.  These rights are also subject to all applicable Canadian laws, which include the Criminal Code of Canada (e.g. hate propaganda provisions), the Ontario Human Rights Code (e.g. prohibition against harassment on prohibited grounds), the Occupational Health and Safety Act (e.g. workplace violence and harassment provisions). This policy complements, and does not supersede or restrict, the application of any of the above.

The student governments are encouraged to consider and adopt policies that align with this policy in accordance with their own governance frameworks.

Policy Compliance:

Complaints about perceived violations of this policy are to be directed to the Office of the University Ombudsperson, who will provide advice about the appropriate University policy or procedure under which the complaint can be addressed.

Student groups, other than the student governments, are required to comply with this policy in order to be recognized by or receive funding from the University. 

Contact Officer Executive Director, Office of the Principal
Date for Next Review December 2023
Related Policies, Procedures and Guidelines

Student Code of Conduct (updated 2018)

Interim Policy on the Booking, Use, and Cancellation of Bookings in University Space and associated procedures

Interim Workplace Harassment & Discrimination Policy

Harassment/Discrimination Complaint Policy and Procedure

Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen's University Students

Statement on the Freedom to Read at Queen's University

Senate Report on Principles and Priorities (January 25, 1996)

Collective agreements with unions and associations

Policies Superseded by this Policy N/A