Ryerson University is facing criticism after pulling the plug on a planned panel discussion featuring University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson and conservative journalist Faith Goldy.
Officials announced that the event, “The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses,” was being cancelled for safety reasons. Some activists who claimed the panel was giving a platform to fascists called on supporters to use all means to disrupt the event.
“After a thorough security review, the University has concluded that Ryerson is not equipped to provide the necessary level of public safety for the event to go forward,” said Ryerson communications director Michael Forbes in a statement. “In light of recent events, Ryerson University is prioritizing campus safety.”
“Clearly, there are some legitimate concerns about campus security in the wake of the violence that erupted in Charlottesville in August, but Ryerson’s actions in this case can’t be justified on those grounds,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “This wasn’t a Nazi march or a gathering of the Klan. It was a panel of academics and a conservative journalist who, ironically, were to discuss free speech on campus. I’m sure many people will find their views offensive, but that’s not a reason to prevent them from speaking.”
Robinson says Ryerson’s decision creates a dangerous precedent as now any individual or group could conceivably use the threat of violence to shut down other events.
“Ryerson, like all universities and colleges, has an obligation to defend academic freedom and free speech, and the administration should not have given in to intimidation,” Robinson added.