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Limiting student expression The new provisions for anti-disruption and protesting limits students’ right to expression

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By: Jordan Graber

At an institution such as McMaster University, the subject of free speech is not an easy discussion. After Jordan Peterson, a controversial psychology professor from the University of Toronto came to visit McMaster, this has sparked immense discussion amongst students, faculty and other sources in Hamilton.

It has been argued whether in this circumstance free speech had been impaired when Jordan Peterson was not able to deliver his lecture or was practiced freely by the students who felt his words were offensive and oppressive to certain communities.

Despite his outlook that this might do good for McMaster students, faculty and guests, much like creating a smoke-free campus, this is in no way a good idea. The effects this policy, which was created by a specific demographic group, will merely take away the ability to fight from marginalized groups and sway even more power from the right side of the political spectrum to the left.

Issues involving language towards the LGBTQ+ community is no light subject, considerably in modern society where the inclusion of these bodies is stamped in the media. Mr. Peterson’s refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns towards his co workers and students has placed him at the centre of debate over gender and free speech.

Protesting gives students power. It gives them the ability to participate in movements that are bigger than one person

With the implementation of this policy, the social inequalities and issues that so many different groups fight for will be protected. If there were to be future speeches or guest lecturers who were to speak against these groups and their beliefs, there would be no ability to fight back and defend their beliefs, which is a basic human right that should be fought for itself.

In addition to the exclusion of marginalized groups and lack of community discussion, the application of the anti-discrimination policy will promote those who sit at the right end of the political spectrum disempower those who sit at the left. This leaves the protestors. Citizens who often lean to the left end of the spectrum will be left with little advocacy when it comes time to implement this policy.

Without advocacy for social democracy and change, we are left with a significant barrier and inequality among political groups and followers. This could create a social divide amongst McMaster students and allow for events and speeches that discriminate against or offend different communities. Once again there are implications that this policy will divide the McMaster community, leaving many without a true voice.

Protesting gives students power. It gives them the ability to participate in movements that are bigger than one person. With the placement of a policy which restricts the boundaries of a true protest, the ability to spark change at McMaster may diminish. It would reduce advocacy for minority groups and the left hand political spectrum, as well as leaving students without a voice.

It is difficult to speak up and to fight, however when it is done it starts a trend that can create real change in a society or community. It gives people purpose and meaning in their lives which is important for the future leaders of this city and this world. People like Jordan Peterson have their rights to free speech but taking away those rights from a spectator creates contradiction.

McMaster is a place where change for the better should be encouraged, not lessened. Anti-disruption is, in theory, a good plan. It does not, however, teach the students of McMaster that their voices are heard and are important, which should be the sole purpose of an institution like this.

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