June 28, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Quebec University invites passage of a law to protect freedom

Quebec University invites passage of a law to protect freedom

The law should define key concepts, including academic autonomy and freedom Required conditions To provide tools for the courts to achieve the university’s objective and determine possible litigation, read their 72-page report submitted on Tuesday.

According to Alexander Cloutier, there is no doubt that Quebec must continue through legal means For a definition [de la liberté universitaire] It is compatible with all universities in Quebec and has conflicting processing mechanisms that are uniform throughout Quebec..

This is the only way to ensure that there is real protection for freedom of education in the eyes of the commissioners.

A quote from Alexander Cloutier, Chairman of the Committee of Experts

It is also important to send a clear message to the courts about the importance of educational freedom. Hence we also recommend that there should be a detailed provision in this regard as provided in the Act., Also at a press conference Mr. Cloutier argued.

Mr. According to Cloutier, there is no need to proceed with the constitutional amendment as proposed by some of the people consulted by the Committee, but the General Government Declaration will not do that, but it will have no effect.Achieve the desired ends with sufficient legal value.

We believe that Quebec has the potential to become one of the most recognizable places in the world for the best protection of academic freedom and even the free flow of ideas.

A quote from Alexander Cloutier, Chairman of the Committee of Experts

Currently, the academic freedom of professors must be governed by collective agreements. However, some of them do not provide a dispute resolution mechanism, mr. Cloutier underlined.

Furthermore, professors from certain institutions, such as McGill University or HEC Montreal, do not have employment contracts.

Complaint mechanisms, however, do not apply to issues related to students, Mr. Cloutier recalled, because they first need an employer decision.

Mr. Cloutier believes it is urgent to move forward with the proposed bill in Quebec, failing which the university unions Unfortunately, swimming in chaos, When future litigation cases arise.

Everyone is going for the apple pie. We see it in our work: for the freedom of education for everyone. It becomes more complicated when it comes time to say what that means and how we implement it, Commented.

What does the proposed law contain

According to the Commission, the proposed law on educational freedom should define from the outset the objective of the university and the two inseparable interconnected concepts of academic freedom.

It should also formally include university autonomy and independence Required conditions To accomplish this mission.

Proposed definitions:

The goal of the university is to generate and disseminate knowledge through research, creation, teaching and community service activities and the conditions required for university autonomy and academic freedom.

The right to academic freedom, without any ideological impediment:

  • Freedom of teaching and discussion;
  • Freedom of research, creation and publication;
  • The beneficiary of this freedom is the freedom to express their opinion on the establishment or system in which they operate, without being subject to institutional censorship and freely participating in the activities of professional bodies or educational institutions.

It must be maintained in accordance with the standards of ethics and scientific rigor.

The legislature must also direct that a committee be set up to hear every establishment dispute. It is up to the universities to decide their composition and their modus operandi if they want to respect their autonomy.

Universities should also have a policy of specifically referring to academic freedom, making it clear that the student body enjoys the freedom to learn, including those who participate in class discussions.

When students go to see that they have a right to learn […], They claim that there is no subgroup in a class that wants to prevent them from expressing right or left opinions […] This is academic talk.

A quote from Yves Gingras, Professor of History at UQAM and a member of the Commission

The Committee recommends that each institution submit to the Minister of Higher Education an annual report outlining the disputes conducted by this Committee and the sanctions applied. The Minister should also compile these reports and prepare an annual status report.

These conclusions were based on 46 briefs received, 23 testimonies collected during a five-day trial, as well as a questionnaire filled out by an online panel of more than 1,000 faculty and nearly 1,000 students.

Some statistics collected by the Commission are:

  • 60% of faculty members said they censored themselves without using certain words;
  • 35% of faculty members said they would censor themselves for not teaching a specific subject;
  • 82% of faculty members believe they can use all useful words for academic purposes;
  • 28% of students said they censored themselves during their studies;
  • 64% of students believe that they can use all the useful words for academic purposes.

The classroom is not a Safe place

Without formal recommendations to pass future legislation, Mr. to the entire university community. According to Cloutier, the commission’s report is consistent with five views.

The first of them Classrooms are not considered “safe areas” (Secure spaces), Especially when this concept is defined by the existence and maintenance of an environment in which there are no thoughts or questions.

All ideas and topics without exception are discussed in universities in a rational and arguable way, Mr. Cloutier, appealed that places other than the classroom should allow students to discuss freely, without judgment and without fear of being offended.

The committee was of the opinion that the merits of issuing warnings before displaying specific potentially hurtful content (“tram warnings”) were the teachers’ instructional choice and could not be imposed on them.

She advises that universities benefit from updating their regulations on digital media usage, To prevent and grant cyber threats against university community members where applicable.

It invites and directs universities to support any member of their community targeted by pressure intended to limit the expression of academic freedom Show a specific storage When they speak on behalf of their organization on sensitive social issues.

Independent Scientific and Technical Commission on Academic Freedom Recognition in Universities Created in March In this context by the Minister of Higher Education Daniel McConnell The controversy that gripped the University of Ottawa With respect to consumption A word beginning with n.

Quebec will vote quickly, McCann said

Academic freedom is a fundamental condition for the health of our university environment., Higher Education Minister Daniel McCann commented in a press release. I warmly welcome the Commission’s recommendations. We will analyze them and expose our government intentions quickly.

This is my favorite formula. Professors should be able to exercise their freedom of teaching and research. It allows our society to move forward.

A quote from Daniel McCann, Minister of Higher Education

Quebec Minister of Higher Education Daniel McCann at a press conference at the National Assembly on September 29

Photo: Radio-Canada / Sylvain Roy Roussell

The National Federation of Teachers of Quebec (FNEEQ-CSN), which represents 85% of university lecturers, welcomes the conclusion of the report, said Christine Gauthier, its vice president.

We believe these are recommendations that make significant progress on the issue of academic freedom, many of which have been supported by union representatives and associations, including our federation., She says.

It is important that we address a variety of topics in the classroom, in the classroom, with a view to solving important issues that are useful for university education and to enhance our knowledge., She added.

To us, this report puts forward that the protection of rights, especially equality, is not contrary to the protection of educational freedom.

A quote from Christine Gauthier, FNEEQ-CSN Vice President

Mrs. Gautir also stressed the desire to decide Clear legal guidelines In future court decisions on disputes over academic freedom.

However, she lamented that the report ignored the precarious status of her union members, who, according to her, are offered 50% to 60% of university courses. Respect for academic freedom will always be fragile as long as we do not focus on getting the employment of contract teachers and better protecting their job relationships., She observed.

There is no crisis at the field level

Daniel Jutras, Rector of the University of Montreal, for his part, regretted that the Committee of Experts was proposing to pass a law to protect university freedom. Recommend this Paradoxical, According to him.

The report prioritizes the conceptUniversity Autonomy, Report Proposed to the Government to pass a law […] Responsibility for the outcome of negotiations before the decision-making body on educational freedom, He stressed.

Not to pass such a law No need, The Rector emphasized, only becauseThere is no crisis on the ground, But because of universities There are already ways to implement the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom.

Shall we break down the open door? The question we can answer is if we look a little further at what the government wants to do with the proposals in this report.

A quote from Daniel Jutras, Rector of the University of Montreal

In addition to the University of Montreal, UQAM, Laval University and Concordia noted the report on Tuesday and said it would take time to read and analyze it before publicly commenting.

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