University of Lethbridge will not host scheduled lecture by controversial guest speaker
The University of Lethbridge, following a great deal of pushback from students and members of the public, says it will not provide space for a planned lecture from a controversial guest speaker.
Frances Widdowson was fired from Calgary's Mount Royal University after she made controversial comments about the Black Lives Matter movement and Canada's residential school system.
She was scheduled for a speaking engagement at the University of Lethbridge on Feb. 1, but the school's president says the facility will no longer be accommodating space for the appearance.
Last week, U of L president Mike Mahon said Widdowson was invited to speak at the institution by another faculty member and emphasized the school's strong feelings about "the value and necessity of freedom of expression."
However, Mahon added that the school should also be cognizant of safety in the school's diverse community.
According to an updated statement, released Monday morning, he said the school was changing its view on Widdowson's speaking engagement.
"In 2019, the university developed a statement that ensured a commitment to free expression on our campus. Our statement acknowledges the university must be able to reasonably regulate the use of facilities, time, place and manner of expression," he said.
"To ensure our community is safe, in the context of this planned lecture, the university will not provide space for this public lecture to occur on campus."
Widdowson – who was hired by MRU to be "a critic of Indigenous policy" – was fired on Dec. 20, 2021, after students complained over the comments she made.
MRU never divulged the true reason for her dismissal, but Widdowson told CTV News last year that she was terminated over the "woke culture" on campus.
"I was questioning woke-ism, woke ideas at the university, so asking questions, and this could not be tolerated by woke activists, which is basically identity politics that has become totalitarian," she said in January 2022.
"That's kind of the environment that was gradually becoming more and more poisonous."
News of her appearance at the U of L reached the media last week and the school first indicated they would have the speech go ahead while providing an opposing position to counter her arguments.
Some students told CTV News that that wasn't enough when it came to someone who "made a career" from discrediting survivors of Canada's residential school system.
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