Criticism of professors online gets OK from Alberta judge

by Liam Britten

Got a beef about a prof at your university? Vent away, says an Alberta judge.

Justice Jo'Anne Strekaf of the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta ruled that two students, twin brothers Keith and Steven Pridgen were not in violation of any laws when they set up a Facebook group critical of their communications and culture instructor. U of C took disciplinary action against the brothers, resulting in Keith being put on probation for two years and both brothers being ordered to apologize. She also ruled that the university was in the wrong by punishing the two.

From the CBC:

"Students should not be prevented from expressing critical opinions regarding the subject matter or quality of the teaching they are receiving," Justice Jo'Anne Strekaf wrote in her ruling.

"As an educational institution, the university should expect and encourage frank and critical discussion regarding the teaching ability of professors amongst students …"

U of C students set up the contentious Facebook page three years ago, on which they posted comments critical of their communication and culture instructor, including "I No Longer Fear Hell, I Took a Course with [the instructor's name]."

The brothers argued in court that the university violated their rights as students.

After winning their case, they told CBC News they hope the decision will help students feel freer to complain when they feel they've been treated unfairly.

The U of C overstepped their bounds big time by taking on these students. Freedom of speech, anybody? Students complain about professors all the time, and do it online frequently — so why should complaining on Facebook be any different?

This is a big victory for free speech. And now that the court has ruled that it’s okay to complain about teachers online, might as well make the most of it: Mrs. Bates, you were a mean old lady, and you had no talent as a teacher. You were the worst part about high school.

Oh, snap!

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Liam Britten

Liam Britten

Liam Britten is a writer and editor with a journalism background operating out of Vancouver. In addition to his work at Techvibes, he has been published in student publications across Canada, as well as local newspapers such as The MapleRidge-Pitt Meadows TIMES and The Langley Advance. An aficionado for the finer things in life — such as video games and sports — Liam is plugged into the tech... more

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