Court Says U. of Calgary Students Who Criticized Professors on Facebook Are Protected

An Alberta court has ruled that students who criticize their professors online are protected from university sanctions by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedom  according to a report in the Calgary Herald. The precedent-setting ruling by Justice Jo’Anne Strekaf says that when universities try to suppress the free speech of students, the students’ right to speak is protected. The University of Calgary put Keith and Steven Pridgen, who are identical twins, on nonacademic probation  for criticizing a professor on Facebook three years ago. Justice Strekaf wrote: “As an educational institution, the university should expect and encourage frank and critical discussion regarding the teaching ability of professors amongst students. …” The university, citing a precedent in mandatory-retirement cases, argued that the charter did not apply to universities. This ruling, as noted in a Calgary Herald op-ed, will affect at least two other student speech cases.  The university is considering an appeal.

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