New Policy 8: Freedom of Speech


In the summer of 2018, the Ford government announced many changes for Ontario. Among them was the new requirement for universities and colleges to have free speech policies modeled after that of the University of Chicago. They were given a deadline of January 2019 to put these policies into effect.

The University of Waterloo (UW) recently redrafted Policy 8, the Freedom of Speech policy, in accordance with the requirements of the provincial government. Policy 8 begins by quoting the University of Waterloo Act, 1972: “The objectives of the university are the pursuit of learning through scholarship, teaching and research within a spirit of free inquiry and expression.”

Matthew Grant, UW director of media relations, said, “UW has always supported the principle[s] of free speech and freedom of expression on campus.”

“The new policy reflects long-held beliefs of UW that the campus should be a place that supports the free exchange of ideas, beliefs that have been documented in numerous university policies and in various public statements,” he said.

Policy 8 simply expects people to respect others’ freedom of speech. Violations of the policy will be addressed through pre-existing policies, many of which have sections concerning freedom of speech. Policy 8 states: “Alleged breaches of this Policy by members of the university will be managed in accordance with policies and agreements (including Policy 33, Ethical Behaviour; Policy 71, Student Discipline; the Memoranda of Agreements with the Faculty Association, CUPE, and Staff Association of the University of Waterloo) governing members of the university.”

Visitors who offend the policy will be managed by the appropriate policy or referred to the UW Police Services.

“The policy will be governed in part by Policy 71, where any issue will be dealt with through a non-academic misconduct process. The process itself is designed to be fair, and students are afforded the right to appeal if they do not agree with the decisions,” Grant said.


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