Equality means equality for everyone.
In a heartwarming and principled decision, Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy issued a policy reversal and will now have the administration absorb the security fee of $1600 plus HST that was originally imposed on the Canadian Association for Equality for Karen Straughan’s event this Thursday. The stated explanation was that the President came to recognize that the cost was a barrier to freedom of expression, as reported by the National Post
CAFE had argued that in fact we and the University share a common goal, to ensure a place where divergent views can be expressed freely and as a natural component of that promise, to guarantee the safety and security of students and the general public. Where we differed was whether charging a small educational nonprofit organization a security fee to police possibly law-breaking acts by protesters was appropriate, or in fact a form of censorship by bankruptcy which risks making the university more dangerous in the long run by rewarding criminal behaviour and punishing those who bring provocative but meaningful discourse to a university campus.
CAFE is appreciative to Ryerson University for not only supporting freedom of expression but showing the courage to acknowledge a wrongheaded policy and take action to correct it. This is a great sign for our ability to bring men’s issues awareness to campuses across Canada, and an important milestone that might play a small role in turning the tide against the dangerous and growing pattern of censorship that has gripped Canadian universities. Thank you Ryerson!
To our amazing donors who have contributed to the security fee: We will follow up with each of you to offer you a reimbursement on your funds, or to see if you would like to have those continue to go towards our “Campus Outrach Fund”, the war chest we are committed to building and which will respond to the still very real threat of censorship against our programs. We will be taking legal action when necessary to guarantee our fundamental rights. CAFE is now working with various constitutional rights organizations in this area. In fact, while we always prefer principled decisions, the ability for those in positions of power to know that one way or the other we will be able to proceed with our events is an effective disincentive against imposing “free speech fees” in the first place.