Laurier’s Task Force on Freedom of Expression continues its work toward developing a statement that articulates the university’s position on freedom of expression. Announced by President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy in November, the task force has been meeting regularly since January. Members of the task force intend to have a statement presented to the university senate for approval in May.
Freedom of expression is a topic that is generating significant conversations at post-secondary institutions across North America. While developing a statement on freedom of expression has been a priority for the university for some time, experiences across Laurier’s campuses during the past year highlighted the need for a clearly articulated and institutionally supported position.
“Our goal is to create a vibrant, aspirational and educational statement that can help us move forward as an institution,” said Rob Gordon, Laurier’s vice-president of research and chair of the task force. “The task force members have shown a dedication to being thorough and thoughtful in their approach to this process. They have demonstrated a commitment not only to drafting a meaningful statement, but also to considering what we as a university must do to embrace and live that statement.”
One of the task force’s first orders of business was to solicit input from the broader university community. A recent call for input into helping with the development of the statement from students, alumni, staff, faculty and others resulted in more than 330 submissions. All submissions were shared with task force members for review and consideration.
“We know that this is an issue that many people have strong feelings about,” Gordon said. “The task force is indebted to all those who took the time to share their thoughts. Those insights help us to better understand the concerns and values of the broader Laurier community.”
In addition to submissions that have been received, the task force has organized presentations from both internal and external experts on issues that impact its work. Once an initial draft statement is crafted, it will be shared with the broader community for feedback.