Academic Freedom & Your Right to Protest on Campus

Today, I am writ­ing to express our union’s unwa­ver­ing sup­port for aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom and the right to protest on uni­ver­si­ty campuses. 

As mem­bers of Canada’s labour move­ment and the aca­d­e­m­ic com­mu­ni­ty, our union stands in sol­i­dar­i­ty with those who are fight­ing for jus­tice and human rights, espe­cial­ly in times of con­flict and oppres­sion. Protest is not only a fun­da­men­tal right that Canada’s unions defend every day, but also a pow­er­ful tool for fos­ter­ing dia­logue, defend­ing democ­ra­cy, and dri­ving pos­i­tive change.

We are deeply con­cerned by the extreme, mil­i­ta­rized respons­es we are see­ing against stu­dents and fac­ul­ty who are par­tic­i­pat­ing in protests advo­cat­ing for Pales­tine on cam­pus­es in Cana­da and across North Amer­i­ca — in par­tic­u­lar by what we’ve seen take place in Alber­ta over the last few days.

Aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom is a unique right cov­ered under URFA’s aca­d­e­m­ic and ses­sion­al col­lec­tive agree­ments, and it’s cru­cial that we use this right to speak out on issues we care about — espe­cial­ly since so many oth­er work­ing peo­ple lack the pro­tec­tions that we have in our union. 

Stand­ing up for the right to peace­ful protest aligns with our union’s core val­ues of cre­at­ing an envi­ron­ment of aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom, free­dom of expres­sion, col­le­gial­i­ty, and respect. By sup­port­ing peace­ful protests for Pales­tine or any oth­er human­i­tar­i­an issue, we demon­strate our col­lec­tive com­mit­ment to these prin­ci­ples and con­tribute to a more inclu­sive and equi­table cam­pus community.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom is under attack on cam­pus­es across North Amer­i­ca. We are see­ing a broad trend of inter­fer­ence with aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom on many lev­els because of the influ­ence of gov­ern­ments, increased cor­po­rate pres­ence, and the influ­ence of pri­vate interests.

I want to assure you that URFA’s Exec­u­tive will stand up for your rights to aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom and peace­ful protest at Cam­pi­on Col­lege, First Nations Uni­ver­si­ty, Luther Col­lege, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na — and more broad­ly in post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion across Cana­da and the world. The Cana­di­an Asso­ci­a­tion of Uni­ver­si­ty Teach­ers (CAUT) has also issued a state­ment and is stand­ing by to assist us if we start see­ing vio­la­tions of mem­bers’ rights in this area.

Recent events have deeply trou­bled many of us, and it is heart­en­ing to see fac­ul­ty mem­bers and ses­sion­als at URFA exer­cis­ing their right to aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom by com­ing togeth­er with stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to raise aware­ness and demand action. 

If you have any con­cerns that your rights to aca­d­e­m­ic free­dom are being vio­lat­ed, or if you have any ques­tions, please con­tact the URFA office at urfa@​uregina.​ca as soon as pos­si­ble so that we can pro­vide imme­di­ate support.

In sol­i­dar­i­ty,

Britt Hall

URFA Pres­i­dent