Policies and Responsibilities for Governing Violent Extremism at Ontario Universities


This research looks at the governance of violent extremism on Ontario university campuses. Specifically, it explores: 1) how Ontario universities are governed; 2) how student organizations (such as clubs) and student governments are governed, and; 3) pre-existing policies that could apply to the governance of violent extremism. The policies of ten universities and the governance structure of all Ontario universities are examined.

Universities are places of heightened vulnerability to radicalization to violence. In an effort to counter radicalization, the UK has introduced new legislation requiring university administrators to play a role in preventing extremism. However, this legislation is concerned with all forms of extremism (both legal dissent and violent extremism) raising concerns about giving security primacy over the academic freedoms that characterize universities. Universities in Canada enjoy some protection of these freedoms due to their status as sensitive institutions. While this status protects these freedoms, it makes it more difficult to gain a clear understanding of the levels of violent extremism on Canadian campuses. However, there is some evidence suggesting a link between student organizations and violent extremism in Canada. Given this evidence, university administrators in Canada may wish to take a proactive stance towards understanding how violent extremism operates on unversity campuses. Such a stance would demonstrate that universities have both the will and the knowledge to mitigate these vulnerabilities, ultimately making legislating duties to prevent violent extremism unnecessary.

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Research Area(s):

Security and Counterterrorism

TSAS WP16-01

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