Bishop’s student union puts academic freedom bill under the microscope

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative
Bishop’s student union puts academic freedom bill under the microscope

Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council (SRC) President Enzo Evangelisti spent the past few days discussing Bill 32, Quebec’s academic freedom legislation, with fellow students, and it appears an alarm is sounding off throughout the halls of the university.

“It’s worrisome, especially that over the last couple of years universities like Bishop’s, and I’d say student unions like the SRC, we’ve been working really hard towards creating safer classrooms, but legislation like this can really impede that process,” said Evangelisti.

He told The Record that, from his various conversations about the bill over the weekend, students believe they can understand concepts and historical significance just fine without needing to hear harmful or triggering language to drive the point home in the classroom.

Last Wednesday, following recommendations from an independent commission, Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann introduced Bill 32 to “recognize, promote and protect academic freedom in the university environment and thereby end censorship.”

In a press release, the provincial government said it recognizes academic freedom as an “essential condition” within universities, and that it’s important to offer an “environment conducive to learning, discussion and debate.” It’s a fundamental issue, noted McCann.

“In recent years, several troubling events have brought this issue to our attention and one thing is clear: censorship has no place in our classrooms. In this bill, we have decided to act on all of the commission’s recommendations,” she said, adding it’s the heart of the university system.
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