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Lethbridge post-secondary institutions in process of creating free speech policies

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Lethbridge post-secondary schools creating free speech policies
WATCH: The UCP government is requiring post-secondary schools to come up with freedom of speech policies by December that would allow controversial speakers to speak on campus without being censored. Jasmine Bala has more. – Aug 2, 2019

Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge are both working to create freedom of speech policies on campus, after an extension from the UCP government on the new requirement.

The timeline to implement these policies has been extended by two months and schools now have until December 15.

READ MORE: Deadline to implement free speech policies at Alberta universities extended

In a statement to Global News, Lethbridge College’s provost and vice president of academic, Samantha Lenci, said they “firmly believe post-secondary campuses have always been, and will continue to be, bastions of free speech, where academic and cultural ideas can be freely debated and new ideas can be fostered.

“As such, Lethbridge College is in the process of creating our own institutional freedom of expression policy affirming these beliefs.”

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The freedom of speech policies are expected to be in line with the Chicago Principles put into place by the University of Chicago four years ago, allowing controversial groups and lecturers to speak on campus without being censored.

The final report of the University of Chicago’s Committee of Freedom of Expression notes that “debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed,” adding that it is up to the individual, not the institution, to make those judgments for themselves and debate them.

READ MORE: Ontario post-secondary schools expected to now have free-speech policies in place

In Lethbridge, this would include speakers like retired University of Lethbridge professor Anthony Hall, who was suspended without pay in October 2016 after he made controversial antisemitic comments online suggesting a Zionist connection to the 9/11 attacks and that the events of the Holocaust should be open for debate.

WATCH (Aired Jan. 16, 2017): Human rights complaint filed against controversial University of Lethbridge professor

Click to play video: 'Human rights complaint filed against controversial University of Lethbridge professor'
Human rights complaint filed against controversial University of Lethbridge professor

The U of L, in a statement, confirmed they are putting together a working group with the university’s general counsel to conduct the “research and the consultations necessary to develop free speech principles.”

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The policy that comes out of the working group will be reviewed and approved this fall through the university’s general faculties council and board of governors.

“We want to ensure that the university continues to prioritize the needs of students throughout the consultation process and we appreciate the government’s recent decision to extend the deadline to allow for this,” the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU) told Global News in a statement.

“ULSU believes in the respectful and free expression of ideas, and we look forward to working with our administration to develop an approach that supports the student experience at the University of Lethbridge.”

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