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Nora Loreto @NoLore
, 23 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
It's almost back to school in Ontario and Rob Ford has issued a stunning attack on free speech at Ontario colleges and universities:… Follow along.
First off, I have an article in the queue for the @NatObserver about Ford's attacks on free expression. I reference an article from Vice in May about this but didn't think that between it being set up and being published, this would break.
Also, shoutout to the Liberal hacks to created HEQCO -- a useless body where old administraters migrated to live out retirement and where anti-student measures were consistently developed. Now, HEQCO is the new defender of "FREE SPEECH" cc. @sandela
In one semester, every Ontario institution is expected to develop a "free speech" policy. It's a timeline that clearly doesn't give any shits at all about consultation. This needs to be passed by institutional bodies like senates or academic councils ...
That means: intro the issue in Sept. Strike a committee. Committee has two months to review and then the Dec. meeting, it must pass. 100% undemocratic. Which makes sense, as it's already an egregious attack on institutional autonomy by the state.
The policy "must" apply to: faculty (lol nope, not outside their CA), students, staff (again, CA), management (many who still have CA-like contracts) and guests (hahahaha <-- this is what this really is about).
So on top of getting this passed by senate before Jan. 1, memoranda of understanding must also be passed with every bargaining unit. Lol yeah ok, right. Next.
"Principles based on the University of Chicago Statement on Principles of Free Expression:" ... while we're picking random American university policies out of thin air ... (i'm guessing that this is a favoured policy of the Right).
"The university/college should not attempt to shield students from ideas or opinions that they disagree with or find offensive."

This suggests that this actually happens, which it actually doesn't. This is the classic right-wing dogwhistle and the dogshit piles up.
But here -- this is important: "they may not obstruct or interfere with the freedom of others to express their views." No more deplatforming! No more shaking KD boxes at a BOG meeting on tuition fees! Or else your uni is defunded.
Which is the most bullshit part of this. Protest, even protest that says that someone isn't welcome on your campus (say, because they argue that men should rape women -- which is one example of one guy at UofT) is free speech.

This is an attack on students' speech.
Ontario campuses aren't open places of inquiry. For example, booking a room can be really difficult, especially if you're a student on the Left. But this policy doesn't address that. It gives a pass to the Gaith Foldys of the world (who is a buddy of Ford, recall)
But here's the location where the attack is most intense. Ford thinks that he can force universities to police the student union's speech. Student unions are autonomous legal entities. Aside from moral suasion, admins can't do much...
"That institutions consider official student groups' compliance with the policy as condition for ongoing financial support or recognition, and encourage student unions to adopt policies that align with the free speech policy." LOL AS IF THEY WOULD DO THIS. Only scab SUs will.
This sets up a potentially explosive showdown between student unions and administrations. Smart admins will push back against Ford. But the shitty ones will try and crush autonomous student organizing and speech.
Ex. : when I was at Ryerson, we blocked the main street illegally. Was this prohibiting movement on campus? Totally. Cars had to go elsewhere. In the end, students convinced the admin to get on board and the street is now closed. And it's great.
Anyway. Ford bounces individual complaints to the Ontario Ombudsman, who recall, has only had authority to hear university complaints for a few years now. You already can complain about whatever you want. So this isn't really a change ...
But the biggest problem in all of this? If you anger Ford by not adhering to this blatant attack on free speech, your institution might lose its funding! "...the ministry may respond with reductions to their operating grant funding, proportional to the severity of non-compliance"
Playing around with an institution's funding is a declaration of war. Schools admit students, hire staff etc. on the expectation that they can honour employment contracts or periods of study. This makes non-compliance high risk.
It's also a stunning (have I said that like 6 times yet) attack on academic freedom. Unis can't compel professors in the way that Ford thinks they can. A cadre of profs telling this policy to eat shit now poses a giant threat to the institution.
(also, I'm trying not to think of how many tiny tories are masturbating over this policy. "YES FINALLY! I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE ON PROF. SMITH WHO MADE ME READ HEGELLLLLL"
Universities and colleges must resist compliance. The college admins are mostly snakes so that's not likely, but university admins who remember what prof life was like have a moral obligation to ignore this directive. And there's strength in numbers.
And forcing administrators to resist can only be done if students, teachers and staff form united fronts at every campus, in college towns and province wide -- and dare Ford to try to enforce this. It's literally the only option.

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