Freedom of expression at Royal Roads University
In the tradition of higher education, Royal Roads is committed to promoting the advance of knowledge through freedom of expression. As a public university in the province of British Columbia, Canada, Royal Roads University is privileged to serve the greater good of our world by fostering learning and expanding knowledge in a country that fundamentally protects “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression” through our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Learning and the generation and dissemination of knowledge require unfettered freedom of expression. This freedom extends to all members of the university community and to all guests and visitors. In other words, the right to examine and challenge issues affecting the university or the broader society, and the right to represent views and advocate, is not limited by belief paradigms.
We ascribe to the tenet that at the free and lawful expression of ideas and viewpoints is essential to increasing understanding and discovering new things. In an ideal world, this would be all that this statement would need to articulate. As the world is not yet ideal, the following principles guide the ways in which we express ourselves and respond to discourse in our university community.
- We have a right to a university community characterized by respect, and we uphold diversity of opinion that is inclusive of all perspectives and communities. We share the responsibility to treat all members of the university community with respect, in learning environments and in all other interactions.
- Discomfort and conflict can be important aspects of learning. Difficult conversations involving social, economic, political, cultural, and diversity issues can lead to great insights. Recognizing that the ability to articulate and support a position or argument is a fundamental skill expected in a university community, we acknowledge that there will be times when critique is appropriate and welcome.
- Respectful, robust discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged and celebrated. Ideas and viewpoints can be expressed openly without fear of reprisal, within the limits of the law.
- Individuals are free to draw their own conclusions. Academic assignments will be assessed based on their quality and not the position they take
- Power and privilege are complex concepts and the structures of oppression that perpetuate these are inherent in our community. We acknowledge that they may influence the expression of ideas and responses to them and we commit to increasing sensitivity to this.
- At the same time, we have a right to learn and work in a safe environment where our physical and psychological well-being are safeguarded. We also have the responsibility not to engage in behaviour that a reasonable person should reasonably know is unsafe or inappropriate and not to intimidate, interfere with, threaten or otherwise obstruct any University activity, nor to hinder members of the University community in the pursuit of their legitimate activities.
- Opinions of individual members or groups of members of the university community are not opinions of the entire university community.
This Statement does not exhaust University policy with respect to freedom of expression and is not intended to amend or qualify University policies on academic freedom.
We acknowledge that this statement is a living document that will be amended as we learn from experience to make them better for our university community. Feedback is always welcome and can be directed to the Office of the President.