The Board of Governors approved a policy statement today that reinforces the University of Guelph’s commitment to freedom of expression, including free speech.

“Freedom of expression has been, and continues to be, vital to the academic mission of the University of Guelph,” said Charlotte Yates, provost and vice-president (academic).

“Excellence in research, scholarship, teaching and learning require the examination and consideration of diverse ideas, methods, beliefs and perspectives. U of G is committed to open, effective dialogue and respectful debate and civil discourse.”

A Freedom of Expression Working Group was created in the fall of 2018 to review existing University policies, examine similar policies at other institutions and develop a draft U of G policy statement. The group met weekly and engaged a variety of stakeholder groups, including faculty, staff and students, to review policy drafts and inform development.

As well, U of G discussed policy development and processes with other Ontario universities and the Council of Ontario Universities.

Two additional U of G working groups were created to help implement the policy from both administrative and academic perspectives.

A wide range of input was provided and considered in drafting the policy, and the process was thoughtful and collegial, Yates said.

“The goal was achieving a document that emphasizes the University’s values already articulated in existing institutional policy and framework documents,” she said.

“The University of Guelph is committed to values of diversity, inclusivity, civility and respect, as well as to freedom of expression.”

Before the policy was presented to B of G, the University Senate discussed the freedom of expression policy statement on Oct. 2 and voted to endorse the policy on Nov. 26.

The policy statement is available online. The web page also includes answers to frequently asked questions, and provides links to other U of G policies and practices that provide context and helped inform the policy statement.