Conference Schedule

Encouraging Free Speech in the Classroom: Origins of Ontario's Free (But Not Hate) Speech Policies and Implications for Classroom Instructors

CC10 • concurrent • Return to conference schedule
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 • 2:20 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Dillon Hall 256
Renan Levine University of Toronto Scarborough Show biographies
I am an associate professor, teaching stream in the Department of Political Science with a PhD from Duke University. I have published papers on voting behavior and public policy and became interested in this topic in response to students and community members who were under the impression that campus was a hostile environment for certain groups and bias negatively infused every class on politics. The reality seemed far different, so I began a project understanding why people had this impression and to think about how instructors like myself can make students with unpopular opinions comfortable about expressing their views to facilitate everyone's learning.

Can our classrooms become spaces where students can speak their minds even if they think their views are unpopular? In late 2018, the newly elected PC government in Ontario required all colleges and universities to establish clear policies for the protections of free speech on campus. The government claimed that many voters expressed concerns that free speech was being stifled on campuses, and that hate speech was proliferating and must be checked. All Ontario colleges and universities quickly complied. The resulting set of policies, while based on two competing models of speech rules and principles, Chicago and Goldwater, pleased few campus stakeholders. This session will start with a discussion of ongoing research into the original impetus of this government initiative: conservatives who felt that their views were being stifled along with minority groups who felt that hate was directed at them with impunity. Participants will then look at how Windsor and two of its peer Ontario universities rules might apply to specific scenarios. I will then review existing literature that looks at how the stakeholders who advocated for these new rules perceive themselves on campus and how their classroom behavior appears to deviate from peers with views more consistent with their faculty before concluding with a conversation about how instructors can ensure student comfort in expressing a range of views.