MONTREAL: Today the student group Liberty @ McGill and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca) are rolling “Free Speech Balls” onto McGill’s Lower Field.
Since January of 2013, the Justice Centre 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. We have sponsored free speech walls in cities including Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Kingston.
This school year, students at McGill have put a new twist on that idea, by instead rolling giant beach balls onto the lower field during orientation week. Students will be asked to write something on the 8-foot balls (if they can catch them!) to celebrate their free expression rights.
The Justice Centre is a Calgary-based non-profit which aims to defend the constitutional freedoms of all Canadians through education and litigation. It annually publishes the Campus Freedom Index, a report which measures the state of free speech at Canadian public universities. The 2013 report found that more than half of Canadian universities are failing to uphold free expression on campus, by either enforcing ‘speech codes’ or by shutting down students whose views are considered unpopular. The Justice Centre will release the 2014 Campus Freedom Index in September.
McGill University receives a ‘D’ average when it comes to upholding free speech on campus, while its student association, the Students’ Society of McGill University, earns an ‘F’ for having discriminated against students and student groups because of the content of their message.
McGill’s Free Speech Balls campaign is just the first of a series of events being held across the country this fall in partnership with theJustice Centre and Canadian Students for Liberty, a student movement dedicated to promoting a free campus and free society.
By holding these free speech wall events on campuses across Canada, the Justice Centre is preparing the next generation of Canada’s leaders to understand and defend our freedoms.