At their meeting on 23 October 2023, UWFA Council passed a motion affirming our members’ rights to academic freedom. I would like to thank Council members and non-Council members who came to today’s special session for a spirited and civil debate even in the context of a sensitive and controversial issue. UWFA stands by our members’ rights to teach, research, and speak in accordance with the RAS, CAS, and Collegiate Collective Agreements, and we abhor any implicit or explicit attempts to silence our members in the exercise of their rights and responsibilities as Faculty, Instructors, Librarians, and Teachers.

The motion that was passed is as follows:

UWFA unequivocally supports the academic freedom of its members. This freedom includes the right to pursue research and open inquiry in an honest search for knowledge that is free from institutional censorship, including that of the government.

UWFA acknowledges that the freedom from political and institutional censure is especially critical at times of war and conflict where scholarly voices are an important corrective to widespread disinformation campaigns.

UWFA supports the anti-racist and decolonial initiatives in Canadian educational institutions and opposes anti-Arab racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia along with all forms of racism and hatred. We strive to ensure our members are free from experiencing bigotry and hate in our classrooms and campuses. We are committed to protecting the security and safety of all scholars who are targeted because of their scholarship and political work.

UWFA reaffirms the language in our Collective Agreements, which states: “Academic freedom does not require neutrality. Rather, academic freedom makes commitment possible and may result in strong statements of beliefs and positions. The credibility and acceptability of the principle of academic freedom depends in part upon the freedom being used in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for knowledge. Academic freedom implies a respect for the rights of others, a tolerance of other points of view and a duty to use that freedom in a responsible manner.” And for members of the Collegiate bargaining unit, “The search for knowledge and its free exposition is a fundamental characteristic of continuing self-examination necessary to maintain a dynamic, free and vital society. To that end, Members are entitled to academic freedom in critical analysis, freedom to teach and discuss, and freedom from arbitrary censorship by either Party.”

Dr Peter Miller
President, UWFA