Call for nominations: President’s Working Group on Free Speech

People walk through Vari Hall, which is located on York U's Keele campus

The following is a message to the University community from President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton:

In response to the provincial government’s call to all publicly assisted colleges and universities to develop and implement a free speech policy, York University established its Statement of Policy on Free Speech, effective Jan. 1, 2019, found at

In keeping with the commitment made by me at the time of policy approval, a Working Group on Free Speech is being struck to continue the recommendations of the Policy Working Group to develop guidelines and resources for the York University community to enable the application of the policy, and to provide a forum for ongoing discussions on how best to preserve open and respectful dialogue on campus.

The President’s Working Group on Free Speech will be comprised of faculty, students and staff, to achieve pan-University representation of community perspectives and equity-seeking groups. Faculty of Health Professor Alison Macpherson, current vice-chair of Senate, will Chair the Group. It will begin meeting in early January 2020, with three meetings per year anticipated through to June 2021. The full terms of reference for the working group can be accessed at

The membership will be as follows:

  • Chair, appointed by the president for a two-year term;
  • York Federation of Students representative;
  • York University Graduate Student Association representative;
  • Glendon College Student Union representative;
  • Osgoode student caucus representative;
  • three students at large co-ordinated through the Student Success Centre;
  • two faculty members appointed on the basis of knowledge and expertise in free speech and/or policy development;
  • two faculty members following an expression of interest;
  • two non-academic staff members following an expression of interest;
  • Office of Vice-Provost Students representative;
  • Ancillary Services, Community Safety representative;
  • Community Support & Services representative;
  • Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion representative; and
  • member of the University Secretariat (ex-officio, non-voting).

The above-noted student unions and administrative offices will designate their nominee to the working group.

Nominations and expressions of interest to fill the open faculty, student and non-academic positions on the President’s Working Group on Free Speech should be submitted care of the University Secretariat at by Friday, Nov. 29.

Nominees are asked to include a brief statement on the knowledge and expertise in free speech and/or policy development that they bring to the committee.

Appointments will be made by the president in consultation with the provost and vice-president academic, and the vice-president equity, people and culture recognizing the importance of ensuring representation from equity-seeking groups.

Questions about the President’s Working Group on Free Speech or the process should be directed to Cheryl Underhill, interim university secretary, at