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Message to the community: Free speech and protests on campus

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

Our primary concern is the safety of the entire University of Alberta community. Every faculty and staff member has the right to feel safe in the conduct of university affairs, just as students do in their spring courses and research. We also want to ensure the safety of those who have chosen to peacefully protest on our campuses.

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

However, any action that interferes with the university’s core teaching and learning activities – or violates the law or university policies – goes beyond the parameters of free speech. In particular, the university will not tolerate hate speech or calls for violence.

Our commitment to freedom of expression calls for a measured and thoughtful approach, and we will extend it to all respectful and peaceful protesters. However, the university will act as necessary to protect people and property and enforce its policies.

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

Bill Flanagan
President and Vice-Chancellor

Members of the University of Alberta community do not have to face difficult situations alone. Resources are available to support your safety, health and well-being”