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Olds College affirms freedom of expression

Collaborative approach intended to strengthen free speech on campuses
Olds College released its Freedom of Expression Policy in late December. File photo

OLDS – Olds College has joined other Alberta post-secondary institutions in affirming a commitment to freedom of expression with a new policy now in place.

Over the pat six months the provincial government has worked with colleges, universities and polytechnic institutions to strengthen free speech on campuses.

The schools have developed policies that align with the University of Chicago Statement of Free Expression, which outline a commitment to freedom of expression for students and faculty.

Olds College released its Freedom of Expression Policy on Dec. 20.

The policy includes the following statements:

• Olds College is a place of free and open inquiry in all matters. All members of the Olds College community are guaranteed the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn. It is not the role of the college to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.

• Concerns about civility and mutual respect will be carefully balanced against providing an environment where ideas are discussed, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of the community.

• Members of Olds College have the right to criticize and question other views expressed on campus, but must not obstruct or otherwise interfere with others’ freedom of expression. Instead of the institution, individuals should make their own judgments and challenge ideas they oppose, rather than acting to suppress free expression.

• Olds College shall apply the principles of freedom of expression consistently and without discriminatory or preferential treatment towards any individual or group.

• The fact that an individual or group is permitted or invited to carry on an expressive activity on campus does not mean that the views of that individual or group are representative of Olds College’s view as an institution or the views of its leadership.

Demetrios Nicolaides is Alberta’s minister of advanced education.

“From Day 1 I have emphasized a collaborative approach to the development of these policies and am happy to see our post-secondary institutions reaffirm their support of free speech without delay,” said Nicolaides. “I am proud to deliver on this important commitment to Albertans.”

The complete Olds College Freedom of Expression Policy can be found on the school’s website.