2019 Essay Contest

Should Universities Police Student Behavior At Private Events?

2019 Essay Contest Winners

We received many thoughtful, well-written arguments, addressing the question, “Should universities police student behaviour at private events?,” from a variety of viewpoints. Winners were chosen based on the quality of their writing and persuasiveness of argument, and opinions and concepts expressed by the winners selected by our judging panel do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Justice Centre.

FIRST PRIZE - Vivian Sim

“Institutional Vigilantism in the Academy: The Policing of Private Activities by Universities”
Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Faculty of Law

Read the essay here

Judge’s Comments:

“This essay passionately and eloquently makes the case that the expansion of university policy enforcement to off-campus situations is a further creep of cancel culture — and therefore must be fought.” – Andrew Lawton

“When I first read this essay, I knew I was reading the winner. The writing and the argument had a natural flow.”  – Sam Goldstein

“An incisive attack on cancel culture that draws a clear and appropriate line between criminal wrongdoing and nonconformism.” – John Robson


“Should Universities Police Student Behaviour at Private Events? An Unregulated, Unconstitutional and Ineffective Approach”
McMaster University, Faculty of Medicine

Read the essay here

Judge’s Comments:

“A thoughtful, balanced and well-written analysis of universities’ behaviour enforcement policies that explores the legal and cultural ramifications of the trend.” – Andrew Lawton

“Well-researched with a lot of examples to bring home the points.” – Sam Goldstein

“A strong analysis of contemporary misapplication of the legitimate principle that universities have reputations to protect.” – John Robson

THIRD PRIZE – Brayden Whitlock

“If we’re being honest, universities need to police culture off-campus”
University of Alberta, Faculty of Law

Read the essay here

Judge’s Comments:

“The author of this essay invoked a unique approach to illustrate the problems facing the academy. It ultimately drew attention to off-campus policy enforcement being a symptom of a broader problem, and the logical end of post-secondary institutions’ current directions.” – Andrew Lawton

“This essay had a novel approach to the topic.” – Sam Goldstein 

“A pointed call for modern universities either to live up to their misguided modern self-image as activist organizations or get back to their roots as places of free inquiry.” – John Robson

2018 Essay Contest Winners

1st Prize – Edward Strahlendorf
Queen’s University BA Honours, (Philosophy)

2nd Prize – Hudi Krauss
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

3rd Prize – Tina Praass
Wilfrid Laurier University, Faculty of Social Work