Canadian Court Rules That Students are Allowed to Criticize Professors on Facebook

In 2007, two University of Calgary students posted critical remarks about one of their professors in a Facebook group devoted to complaints. The students, twin brothers Keith and Steven Pridgen, were punished by the university for “non-academic misconduct” by being placed on probation.

But the students fought back, appealing to the courts with the argument that they had a right to free speech. Now, Alberta’s highest court has sided with the brothers, ruling that the Charter of Rights apply when universities discipline students.

The University of Calgary has since released a statement acknowledging that it needs to improve its non-academic policy. In fact, the befuddled school has already taken measures to revise its disciplinary policy: it now includes centralized non-academic misconduct procedures consistent for all students, and “will be considering the full implications of the Court of Appeal’s decision over the coming weeks.”