Jordan Peterson's visit to campus tomorrow was a topic of discussion at Western's Senate on Friday.
After the student group — Young Canadians in Action (YCIA) — responsible for bringing Peterson was faced with unexpected security costs, Western senator Albert Katz asked for the policy the University had for such situations.
Janice Deakin, Western provost and vice-president academic, explained that as the YCIA is not a University Students' Council (USC) ratified club, they do not have access to the grant system that offsets such costs.
However, Western's student experience portfolio was going to provide a $600 grant to YCIA to partially cover the costs out of a fund set aside to help student-held events.
The $600 given to the YCIA partially subsidizes the $1,500 security cost facing the student group, according to Deakin.
"We are being inundated by some colleagues, demanding that the University pay this money. The student group that is bringing this individual in, is quite satisfied with the University's response to help," she said. "There will be security because of course there is concern, not that something untoward is going to happen, but that something untoward could happen, and so we do need to have the security in place."
The conversation also addressed free speech on campus as Deakin said, "This is a place where we welcome free speech. Many of us might not agree with his particular position — we are always balancing welcoming and inclusive community with the ability for people to come and say what they like on campus."
Following Katz's question, Wendy Pearson, Western senator and associate professor in Western's department of women's studies and feminist research, asked that Senate reaffirm their dedication to keeping Western an inclusive space.
"I'd just like to basically affirm that we intend to continue that Western be an inclusive space for non-binary and trans people here, including faculty, staff and students."
Western president Amit Chakma was quick to voice his support for both an inclusive community and free speech.
"I think we've been an open and inclusive community, but at the same time I think we are also equally responsible for respecting all people's right to express their views. I think as an academic body, we fight ideas with ideas," he said. "We don't try to prevent people from speaking their minds ... I think our student body and community is mature enough to be able to make up their own minds."
Eddy Avila, USC president, emphasized that the YCIA was not a USC-ratified club, and that the Peer Support Centre would be open on Saturday for Western community members to visit.
"Keep in mind that this is not a USC-ratified club at all," he said. "We hadn't really heard of them, they hadn't reached out to us, in order for any of that funding. But just as a general statement, we are opening up our Peer Support Centre tomorrow to provide an opportunity for anyone to debrief or to provide a safer place for anyone who feels targeted from this individual being on campus."
Other business at the meeting saw Senate pass a list of senator responsibilities, from a recommendation of the Senate ad hoc committee on renewal. The list required that senators "act in good faith in the best interests of the university," "understand and respect the distinction between the role and responsibilities of the Senate, the Board of Governors and the administration" and "exercise critical judgment when coming to decisions or providing advice to the senior administration," among other responsibilities.
Also approved at the meeting were a number of new scholarships and bursaries during the meeting, including an annual entrance bursary for $1,200 in memory of Andrea Christidis, a first-year student who died in October 2015. The bursary is funded by the Faculty of Health Sciences Students' Council as Christidis was in the health sciences faculty.