Students at York University demonstrated the power of free speech in encouraging discussion and tolerance during their free speech wall event held on March 18 and 19. The event, which was hosted by York Students for Liberty and co-sponsored by JCCF, involved students sharing their thoughts, opinions and expressions on the wall in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of free speech on campus.
The JCCF’s 2012 Campus Freedom Index reports that free speech at York University is under threat. York University and its Federation of Students (YFS) both earn a ‘D’ with respect to their written policies, and an ‘F’ for actions taken to censor speech.
Despite York’s disappointing history with regard to campus free speech, both university and YFS administration showed real leadership by refraining from restricting the ability of students to exercise their right to free expression during the event. York has the distinction of being the only campus which has not had its free speech wall event interfered with by administrators or other members of the university community.
The York free speech wall event demonstrated that free speech encourages peaceful exchange and thoughtful discussion. As students continue to build free speech walls at campuses across the country, the experience at York is an example of why university administrators—and students themselves—should uphold the value of free expression instead of trying to stifle campus speech.