Being exposed to a diverse range of opinions and perspectives, and being able to engage in the free and open exchange of ideas and information, is fundamental to the educational and research mission of the University. It is only through considering, questioning, and discussing ideas that we are able to create new knowledge, advance human understanding, and promote societal change and development.
McMaster also has policies in place which reflect these laws, and reiterate our commitment to fostering a respectful and inclusive organizational culture in which all members of the University community work, study, and live free of discrimination and harassment. The University’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment: Prevention & Response states that:
The University upholds a fundamental commitment to freedom of expression and association for all its members and to academic freedom for faculty. In exercising those freedoms, all its members are required to respect the rights and freedoms of others, including the right to freedom from Discrimination and Harassment.
This policy applies to all events held on our campus and those that occur on non-University premises where there is a clear nexus to the working or learning environment at the University. The policy expressly prohibits any discriminatory or harassing action and/or conduct, verbal or non-verbal, directed at or about one or more individuals or groups, that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, or interferes with academic or work performance, in a manner that exceeds the bounds of freedom of expression and academic freedom.
Given the fundamental importance of freedom of expression to the mission of the University, the institutional goal is to enable planned events to proceed wherever reasonably possible. The cancellation, suspension, or postponement of events are not desirable outcomes and such measures should be taken only in extreme cases, such as where there are serious concerns for community safety that the University is not confident of being able to mitigate.
Although our faculty, students, staff and alumni will hold a range of opinions about social, scientific, political and other issues, the University itself does not typically take a position on such issues. The goal of the University administration is to support the University community in advancing our research and educational mission, and to foster open enquiry in its many forms.
Any individual who is concerned that conduct at an event violates or appears to violate laws, University policies or codes of conduct, is encouraged to notify the relevant University office (which may include the Equity and Inclusion Office, Student Support and Case Management, Employee/Labour Relations, Faculty of Health Sciences Professionalism Office, Security Services) so that the relevant conduct can be investigated and addressed in accordance with the University’s policies and protocols.
Similarly, any individual or group who is in need of support or assistance before or after an event is encouraged to contact one of the offices listed above or any of the other supports and resources available to members of the McMaster community (which may include the Student Wellness Centre, Ombuds Office, Chaplaincy Centre and McMaster Students Union, or other supports and services as appropriate).
As an academic institution, McMaster has an obligation to ensure that the regular academic and administrative business of the University (regularly scheduled lectures, classes, exams, administrative meetings, etc.) continues unhindered. The University will accordingly take such steps as are necessary to ensure appropriate conditions to enable a conducive learning, working and living environment, and that academic and general facilities, property and equipment are available for use for their regular purposes as part of the ongoing academic and administrative business of the University.
The document sets out the responsibilities of event organizers when planning events of a potentially controversial nature, and aspires to set a tone that is respectful and inclusive of the entire campus community. Event organizers are encouraged to consider the potential impact of their event on other individuals or groups and to work with the University so that any necessary measures or supports can be put in place.