Free and open critical inquiry a university hallmark

This notice is from the archives of The Notice Board. Information contained in this notice was accurate at the time of publication but may no longer be so.

Caylan Ford, former UCP candidate, has been invited by The Institute for Liberal Studies & Department of Political Science to give a talk entitled Free Inquiry in the Age of Outrage.

The University of Lethbridge recognizes that its success is dependent on how well we include, value and engage a diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni.  While the University does not endorse the opinions and views expressed by invited speakers, including Ford’s, by its very nature, a university permits free and open critical inquiry in all matters. The University’s Statement on Free Expression elaborates on this commitment.

We understand that many students and colleagues may believe that Ford’s reported comments about diversity-related topics are antithetical to the culture of inclusion that we strive to nurture at the U of L. Indeed, they consider them to be controversial and offensive, and for some, the reported comments may even trigger feelings of trauma related to prior experiences. Some of our community members have endured targeted, offensive behaviour from others who are emboldened by language that seemingly suggests that such behaviour is acceptable. It is not.

Mutual respect, tolerance, and civility are valued within the University but do not constitute sufficient justification for closing off the discussion of ideas, no matter how offensive or disagreeable they may be.

There are legal limits to freedom of expression. The University does not tolerate behaviour that undermines the safety of our diverse community. Freedom of expression does not protect violence or threats of violence and examples of how it is limited include Criminal Code hate speech laws, hate and discriminatory speech provisions within provincial human rights codes, and anti-defamation laws. The University will restrict expression that violates the law, defames an individual, or that constitutes a threat or harassment.

This is an opportunity for the community to express its views and values with a show of strength, through respectful and rigorous debate. Scholars are encouraged to openly and vigorously contest the ideas they oppose. As community members we have the opportunity to exercise our agency to fully engage in discussion and debate in defense of our ideas and values.

Dr. Erasmus Okine
Acting Provost


Erasmus Okine | | 403-329-2431