Kings

A news article from King's student magazine The Regis has been removed for its bias in favour of free speech. 

The article was published online on Friday and covered a King's University College election debate. King's posed a question about free speech to the college's two presidential candidates: "If elected president at a Catholic university college, will you advocate for those that believe that some speech crosses the line, or will you advocate for those that support free speech?"

One candidate, Olivia Smith-Rodrigues, said she would limit some speech to protect students. The other, Hadia Fiaz, said she would not, though she would help students who did not feel safe.

Though it was released as a news article, the article's final paragraphs revealed the authors' positions on free speech:

"If our KUCSC president places limitations on free speech, are they also creating educational limits for the students they’re supposed to represent? ... by deeming some topics of conversation unsuitable for campus, it could create an environment where students don’t feel comfortable or safe voicing their opinions in an academic setting, which is the opposite of what we want on our campus."

Editor-in-chief Julia Thompson voluntarily removed the article Sunday morning following a recommendation from the college's student council.

Although the King's University College Students' Council does not have the ability to mandate the removal of any Regis articles, it argued the article violated the Regis' internal policies regarding bias and impartiality.

The council recommended the removal an hour after the article's publication, as their elections committee had begun receiving complaints. The magazine also received a critical letter to the editor and questions in the comment section about the publication's integrity. 

"Due to the negative comments and debate happening on the article, the discussions I'd had, as well as the formal complaint and the overall negative turn the publication of the article took, I made the decision to remove it," Thompson said. She also said one of the article's authors had an obvious bias toward Fiaz, "eliminating neutrality from the article." She added her intent was not to hinder one candidate and support another, as she thought the free speech debate on campus was important to cover.

Free speech at Western University has been under the microscope since the second USC debate on Jan. 29, in which presidential candidate Ocean Enbar said he would prevent the student pro-life club Western Lifeline from protesting on campus. The other slate, PrattChang, said they would not.

One day after the debate, the club demonstrated with large pictures of fetuses in the University Community Center basement, a few steps away from the Wellness Education Centre — where students can go for mental health support.

Enbar has since written a letter in the Gazette to explain that his position is now only that certain locations, like the University Community Centre basement, are not suitable for protest.

The article's removal occurs a day before the start of the King's and the USC election, which runs Feb. 5 to 6. 

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Martin is the Senior News Editor at the Gazette. You can contact him at martin.allen@westerngazette.ca, or @mtrallen on Twitter.

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