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May 30, 2018

To the Wilfrid Laurier University Community,

I am pleased to report that the Senate of Wilfrid Laurier University has approved the Statement on Freedom of Expression recommended to it by a special Laurier task force. The statement was developed through extensive research, broad consultation, careful deliberation, and a feedback process that incorporated public comment on an earlier draft. With Senate’s approval of the recommended statement, we as a university community now have a clear foundation from which to work when considering matters of free expression. The statement reinforces Laurier’s long-held values and more clearly articulates for everyone our principles.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all members of the task force, including the chair, Robert Gordon. This was a demanding process that required a significant investment of time, energy, and commitment. The many hours of thoughtful writing, deliberation, and rewriting are reflected in this important statement, and I am confident that the work will provide invaluable guidance for our community as we move forward. On behalf of the university, thank you to the task force for the care and thought you invested in this task.

Approval of the Statement on Freedom of Expression is just the beginning. We must now give careful consideration to how we as a university community operationalize the statement’s principles in a way that protects free expression, supports academic enquiry and critical dialogue, and aligns with our commitment to be an inclusive campus community. As Laurier’s president, I am committed to the principle of inclusive freedom as outlined in the statement.

I am particularly inspired by the notion of better speech articulated in the statement. As we steward our collective responsibility for building, maintaining, and continuously protecting an institutional culture that champions both free expression and inclusion, I would ask, as the statement suggests, that we strive for a high ethical and intellectual standard that can serve as an example of how open and constructive discourse can be conducted in a truly meaningful way.

Sincerely,

Deborah MacLatchy, PhD

President and Vice-Chancellor

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