Message to community: Freedom of expression and protests on campus

Earlier today, students and community members set up on the Quad on North Campus and declared their intention to transform the space into an encampment. The university leadership is in open and ongoing communication with this group. This development reflects the student-led protests taking place at universities across Canada and the United States.

Our primary concern is the safety of the entire U of A community. Every faculty and staff member has the right to feel secure while conducting university business, as do students going about their spring coursework and research. We also want to ensure the safety of those who have chosen to demonstrate peacefully on our campuses.

Academic freedom and freedom of expression are the foundations of the university. The U of A’s Statement on Freedom of Expression reinforces our commitment to free expression in all forms of communication, including non-violent protest and dissent. Even in cases where some may find the expression offensive or disturbing, we recognize the right to criticize and question. 

However, any action that impedes the university’s core business of teaching and learning—or violates the law or policies of the university—goes beyond the parameters of freedom of expression. In particular, the university will not tolerate hate speech or calls for violence. 

Our commitment to free expression calls for a measured and thoughtful approach, and we will extend this to all respectful and peaceful protestors. However, the university will act where necessary to protect people and property and uphold the university’s policies.

The university will post updates to the community as needed. I ask that all of us work together as a community, always keeping our core values of respect and compassion at the forefront.

Bill Flanagan
President and Vice-Chancellor

University of Alberta community members do not have to navigate difficult situations by themselves. Resources are available to support your safety, health and well-being »