Since January of 2013, JCCF has been partnering with students across Canada to build campus “free speech walls,” whiteboard displays which allow students to share their thoughts and questions as an exercise of their free expression rights. The wall events provide an open forum to educate students about the importance of free speech at Canadian universities. JCCF has sponsored free speech walls in cities including Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Kingston.
This school year, JCCF and Canadian Students for Liberty have put a new twist on that idea, by rolling giant beach balls onto campus and encouraging students to write on the ball to exercise their free speech rights. The event also provides an opportunity for students to engage their peers about Canadians’ right to free expression and the importance of free speech to the university.
McGill students got the ball rolling in August and September during McGill’s orientation week. The forum provided a useful and fun opportunity to educate students about their free speech rights.
In September, the University of Ottawa Liberty Society launched a free speech ball event, building off of last year’s Free Speech Wall event at the U of O. Students were provided with copies of JCCF’s Campus Freedom Index report on the U of O, which calls out the University administration for not providing adequate security during a March 2014 lecture by one of its own faculty on the subject of men’s issues and feminism. In the face of disruptive demonstrators, the lack of security prevented the speaker and audience from engaging in the scheduled discussion.
Students at the University of Toronto rolled free speech balls onto their campus in October. The mobile balls were able to reach many more students and passersby than a free speech wall, which is stationed to one spot on campus.
The novelty of these giant beach balls was eye-catching to many students, which gave these freedom-loving students of the University of Waterloo Students for Liberty chapter opportunity to engage other students on the subject of their free speech rights.