Photo credit: Keenan Smith-Soro

Algonquin is one of 24 colleges in Ontario required to implement a new freedom of speech policy before Jan. 1, 2019, in order to create a consistent doctrine among all Ontario colleges.

The policy will work as a sort of umbrella implementation that encompasses a variety of issues in colleges and universities such as illegal forms of speech, discriminatory language and hate speech.

This new implementation is a result of the government emphasizing the importance of a clear policy. Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced in late August that “Colleges and universities should be places where students exchange different ideas and opinions in open and respectful debate.”

President Cheryl Jensen is one of 16 members on the freedom of speech task force. “They’ll be drafting the policy and sending it out to all 24 colleges in Ontario,” said Jensen. “It is following some pretty standard protocol.”

Jensen clarified that there is nothing necessarily new about the freedom of speech policies on campuses, other than revisions and consistency.

“We do have policies on academic freedom in terms of research, we have intellectual property policies,” she said. “I think what the government is doing is trying to create a policy that will be consistent at every college because colleges develop their own policies.”

The presidents of all 24 colleges will be meeting next week to further discuss the future policy that is to be implemented, she said.

On the whole, the primary reason for this implementation according to Jensen is to “protect student safety and establish a safe academic environment.”