Kwantlen Student Association v Free Expression on Campus

Kwantlen Student Association v Free Expression on Campus

In December 2012, the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) agreed, upon threat of legal action by JCCF, to register the campus pro-life club Protectores Vitae (Protectors of Life), as described further below.  However, in October 2013, the KSA introduced a new policy requiring that “any material displayed in the Association spaces should adhere to the principle of ‘safe space’ … to ensure an accessible environment in which every student feels comfortable, safe and able to get involved in all aspects of the organization [sic] free from intimidation or judgement”.

Under this provision, the KSA empowered itself to censor any speech on campus that, in its opinion, could make a student feel uncomfortable.  This policy would effectively prevent all campus groups from promoting any political, religious, cultural or moral perspective if the KSA’s elected representatives disagreed with it.  In November 2013, the JCCF sent a warning letter to the KSA, threatening legal action if the policy were used to discriminate against any student or student group on the basis of their views or opinions.

In January 2014, the KSA reversed its decision, amending its Club Procedures and stating:

Clubs are basically autonomous in their activities, provided that they adhere to the Constitution, Bylaws, Regulations, and Executive Procedures, of the Kwantlen Student Association (the “Rules”). The Kwantlen Student Association shall not intervene unless the Club acts in a way that is unlawful, contrary to the Rules, or contrary to the purpose of the Club.

This matter was resolved without court action becoming necessary.