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Ontario's faculty concerned with government effort to tie funding to university free speech policies

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Toronto, Aug. 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "The Ontario government has announced that universities could face funding cuts if they do not comply with newly introduced requirements for campus free speech policies. OCUFA does not believe this government intervention is necessary and is deeply concerned with its implications for the province's universities, faculty, staff, and students.

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Threatening to withhold funding from postsecondary institutions will only serve to undermine the quality of education at our universities and unfairly penalize students. In fact, this directive could be counterproductive and actually chill free speech on campus. Members of the university community may be discouraged from speaking up for fear of being disciplined.

Ontario's university faculty strongly support a culture of free, vibrant, and diverse speech on our campuses. The pursuit of knowledge is at the core of the university mission and, by its very nature, often leads to enthusiastic discussion and sometimes heated debate. This is why faculty have academic freedom provisions in our collective agreements that provide strong speech protections and why universities already have policies that attempt to foster free speech on campus while maintaining a safe and secure educational environment.

The government should have invested more time working with university administrators, faculty, staff, and students to understand the potential consequences of this directive. Over the coming months, it will be vitally important that members of the university community have opportunities to exercise their speech rights through broad and comprehensive campus consultation about these policies, their implementation, and their likely impact on campus speech and university funding."

Gyllian Phillips,
President, Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit www.ocufa.on.ca.

Ben Lewis, Communications Lead
Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations 
416-306-6033
BLewis@ocufa.on.ca

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