BREAKING: Membership decided for Task Force on Freedom of Expression

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Wilfrid Laurier University has released the names of individuals appointed and elected to serve on the Task Force on Freedom of Expression.

Laurier’s president, Deborah MacLatchy, called for the task force on Nov. 17, shortly after the recording of Lindsay Shepherd’s reprimand was published by Global News. For a more detailed timeline of events, click here.

On Nov. 8, Shepherd was called into a meeting with her supervising professor, Nathan Rambukkana, Herbert Pimlott, an associate professor in communication studies and Adria Joel, manager of the gendered violence prevention and support for Laurier’s Diversity and Equity Office.

In the meeting, Shepherd was condemned by the trio for playing a clip from TVO’s The Agenda – which featured controversial University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson defending his refusal to use gender neutral pro-nouns – from a neutral stand point. At one point in the meeting, Shepherd’s refusal to take a side in the debate was compared to neutrally presenting a speech by Hitler.

Shepherd recorded the meeting and brought it to the media, leading to the development of a fact-finding initiative headed by Rob Centa, which ultimately revealed that no formal complaint had been filed against Shepherd with the school.

The goal of the task force – which is separate from the recently completed fact-finding report – is to “develop a statement on freedom of expression that aligns with the principles of academic freedom, freedom of speech and the mission, vision and values of the university.”

The task force is made up of seven faculty members, three students, as well as the university’s vice president: research and acting provost, Robert Gordon, vice president: student affairs, David McMurray and the dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Douglas Deutschman.

Faculty members representing the Waterloo campus include Anne-Marie Allison, instructor (contract academic staff) from the Faculty of Science, Manuel Riemer, associate professor from the Faculty of Science, Anne Wilson, professor from the Faculty of Science and senator, Ali Zaidi, associate professor, Faculty of Arts and Kristiina Montero, associate professor from the Faculty of Education, senator and member of the Board of Governors.

Faculty members representing the Brantford campus include David Haskell, associate professor from the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Marcia Oliver, associate professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Brantford campus

Student representation on the task force consists of Kanwar Brar, president and CEO of the Students’ Union, Natalie Gleba, president of the Graduate Student Association and Josh Hortaleza, undergraduate student and senator.

Once finished, the task force will release an open report including recommendations and guidelines for practical application in class.

The task force is currently expected to conclude its work in March.

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