SAFS McGill is a community open to all students, staff, and faculty of McGill University who support unqualified academic freedom. Those who are members of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, of which SAFS McGill is a freestanding local chapter, enjoy full voice and vote. The primary purpose of the community, founded in 2021, is to affirm academic freedom at McGill, and in that way to help maintain the University’s traditional standards of excellence.

Academic freedom is here understood in a manner compatible with McGill’s acknowledgement that “the scholarly members of the university have the freedom to pursue research and artistic creation and to disseminate their results, without being constrained by political or disciplinary orthodoxies, monetary incentives or punitive measures as a result of their academic pursuits,” and that they retain inside and outside the university “the right of free expression, including the freedom to criticize one another, university policies and [the] administration.”  

More concisely, it is understood as Einstein understood it: “By academic freedom I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right implies also a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.” 

SAFS McGill does not concede that academic freedom must be balanced with a supposed right to “feel safe” (a euphemism for not having one’s sense of self or of the world challenged) or that academic freedom should be limited by so-called safe spaces. Its concern is with the right and duty to think and speak freely, and it contends that all spaces in the university should be spaces devoted to rational debate.

In keeping with the goals of the Society, it affirms that “members of the university may take positions that are not in accord with popular beliefs” and opposes “measures such as speech codes, extra-legal tribunals and so-called anti-hate legislation that may infringe on the right and responsibility of the academic community (faculty and students) to teach and do research on controversial subjects.” It espouses the Society’s commitment to equality of opportunity.

Find out more about SAFS McGill

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