In a letter dated April 17th, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has asked the President of the University of Western Ontario to reconsider a decision to ban two community activists from the Western campus on account of their participation in a demonstration last February.
The letter stated that:
” . . . CCLA is concerned that Western unduly limits the ability to protest on its premises; and further, has decided to punish individuals and deny them the ability to enter the campus on the basis of participation in a peaceful protest, particularly in a context where one may have been acting in a journalistic capacity”
According to a London Free Press report, campus police indicated that it is not uncommon for persons to be banned from the campus, and that anyone on the school’s banned list caught on campus will be arrested. According to the same report, the CCLA indicated they will explore legal action if the university doesn’t overturn the ban.
The university also received a request from the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) asking that the ban be reconsidered. The letter stated:
“Given the circumstances, the year-long ban is excessive and, ultimately, counter-productive. It sends a message that Western welcomes only the debate it approves. The excessive punishment pits faculty committed to the terms of academic freedom against parents concerned about student safety. Quite frankly, it sends a message that the university has, in effect, taken sides in the debate itself. Whether or not any of these perceptions are true is beside the point that many take them to be so.”
The London Free Press also reported that there was a brief occupation of the President’s office last Thursday which was captured on video. According to a story in the Metro, “the protest ended peacefully after several people left their contact information with Chakma’s staff in hopes of scheduling a meeting.” However, a university official indicated it’s too early to tell if additional action will be taken against them or others involved.
It will be interesting to follow the University’s response to these requests.