Quebec university classrooms are not safe spaces, says academic freedom committee

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Published December 14, 2021 at 12:28 pm

MONTREAL — A committee mandated by the Quebec government to investigate academic freedom says university classrooms should not be considered safe spaces.

The committee, headed by former Parti Québécois cabinet minister Alexandre Cloutier, introduced its report today, following hearings that included testimony from university staff and students.

Cloutier, the vice chancellor at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, is recommending the government adopt a bill that would create a universal definition of academic freedom and would protect that freedom on university campuses across the province.

His report makes several other recommendations, including against universities imposing so-called trigger warnings — statements that warn students about potentially offensive or traumatic classroom material.

The government created the committee following a controversy at University of Ottawa, where a professor was suspended in 2020 for using the N-word during a class lecture.

Cloutier told reporters today that university classrooms should not be safe spaces but should instead be forums where ideas can be debated without censorship. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 14, 2021. 

The Canadian Press

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