Jun 16, 2021

Vancouver, BC – Langara College is proud to announce the creation of a Statement on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression. The Statement contributes to the College’s effort to create a culture that celebrates robust and vigorous debate characterized by reason, tolerance, inclusivity, equity, and mutual respect. 

The Statement was created in order to establish the principles upon which decisions will be made at Langara about academic freedom and freedom of expression on campus. 

“Post-secondary institutions play a critical role in society as safe places for the free and open debate of ideas as part of the search for knowledge, and in educating citizens capable of the analysis and criticism of ideas,” said Dr. Lane Trotter, President, Langara College. “Yet we must also create welcoming environments, inclusive of all, that promote civility and respect human dignity. Increasingly, these principles have been at odds on many campuses in North America.” 

The College has observed the challenges at other post-secondary institutions and wanted to clearly communicate its position and establish a transparent process by which students, faculty, and staff, can express their concerns about potential speakers or issues. 

While informed by the Chicago Principles, Langara’s Statement is unique in several important ways:

  • the in-depth, consensus-based consultation process that led to the creation of the Statement.
  • its recognition of the importance of the values of both academic freedom and freedom of expression at colleges and universities and the ways in which they overlap.
  • the inclusion of the use/mention distinction, a foundation of academic inquiry that allows for ideas, words, or arguments that may be offensive in ordinary usage or misinformed or distasteful to be mentioned for the purpose of critical evaluation without implying endorsement of them. 

Langara recognizes that decisions to permit or restrict certain speakers or expression of some ideas on campus can be controversial. The Statement also includes the establishment of an accountable, transparent review process whereby members of the community can express concerns about the presence or restriction of some ideas or people on campus. 

The Statement acknowledges limits on free expression, including that which violates the law, including but not limited to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Criminal Code, privacy laws, or human rights laws. 

In developing the Statement, Langara’s Board established the President’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression who undertook a two-year consultation process. Those extensive, iterative consultations included meetings and exchanges with the Langara Faculty Association (LFA), Langara students, the Langara local of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 15), the Langara Board of Governors, and two World Café events attended by faculty and staff. 

About Langara College  
Located in beautiful Vancouver, B.C., Canada, snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College provides University, Career, and Continuing Studies education to more than 23,000 students annually. With more than 1,700 courses and 130 programs, Langara’s expansive academic breadth and depth allows students of all ages, backgrounds, and life stages to choose their own educational path. Langara is also known as snəw̓eyəɬ leləm 'house of teachings', a name given to it by Musqueam, on whose unceded traditional territory the College is located.

Learn more. 
Dr. Lane Trotter 
President and CEO 
Langara College