Message to the uOttawa community on freedom of expression

Photo of uOttawa campus at sunset
Message to the uOttawa community on freedom of expression

Dear uOttawa community,

We continue to feel the pain and anxiety that many in our University community are experiencing due to the scale of suffering in the Middle East, and we are carefully observing the latest wave of protests that are occurring in the United States and now in Canada. We are hearing that one is planned in front of Tabaret on Monday.

As always, our institution supports and protects the right to peaceful protest as a cornerstone of both our university mission and our democratic life. In fact, our University Senate’s Statement on Freedom of Expression in the University Context, dated September 19, 2022, reaffirms the freedom of expression of all members of the University community within the limits set by university policies and regulations, and by the provincial and federal laws that govern us. The statement highlights in clear terms that “protecting freedom of expression in a university setting and academic freedom must be seen in light of the University’s fundamental mission, that is to create an inclusive environment for teaching and learning, and for knowledge creation and transfer.”

Nevertheless, everyone in our University community has the right to feel safe and respected. We have forcefully and repeatedly affirmed that no incitement to violence or incidents of harassment or hate, including Islamophobia and Antisemitism, will be tolerated on our campuses. These critical responsibilities are institutional priorities, and we will act in accordance with our policies and regulations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of each member of our community.

Our policies and regulations clearly outline the responsibilities of all community members, including Policy 130 (Student Rights and Responsible Conduct) and Policy 28 which states the “temporary use of University Space for an Activity is a privilege and is not a right.” These policies make clear that acts of misconduct such as the “use of University facilities contrary to the express instruction or without proper authorization” carry serious consequences.

While peaceful protest is permitted in appropriate public spaces on campus according to our policies and regulations, encampments and occupations will not be tolerated.

In conclusion, we ask everyone to thoughtfully consider their responsibilities and the wellbeing of our entire community. We continue to call on all members of our community to treat each other with respect and empathy as they interact in our classrooms, common spaces, and online.


Éric Bercier, Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs