SAFS Wins Donner Grant for Legal Defence Fund

January 2001

The Board of Directors of SAFS is pleased to announce that we have received a $100,000 grant from the Donner Canadian Foundation for a legal defence fund to support individuals to defend their academic freedom and the merit principle. The title of the grant is: Defending Academic Freedom, Scholarship, and the Merit Principle: Legal Research and Defence Fund.

As you know, SAFS was founded in 1992 in response to threats to both academic freedom and the merit principle in Canadian universities. As our web page ( makes clear, we focus on promoting reasoned debate on issues of academic freedom and scholarship, through activities including encouraging the formation of local university chapters, distributing information to the media, speaking out publicly in support of our goals, and writing to appropriate officials when our principles are in jeopardy.

One activity that we have not had the resources to undertake is supporting individuals with material aid in those cases where there has been a clear abuse of academic freedom and/or the merit principle. We have been constrained by lack of funds to supporting individuals with collegial advice and moral support only. In many cases, our organization would be more effective in championing our goals, if we could directly help individuals to pursue their rights to academic freedom or to defend the merit principle by being able to fund legal research and, if necessary, the retention of legal counsel. Now, because of the grant, we will be able to move in this direction. We believe that the Society has enough experienced senior members with the judgment to select those individuals and cases for support that will have the greatest ultimate impact in setting precedents for safeguarding academic freedom and the merit principle in Canadian universities. We thank the Donner Canadian Foundation for their support and encouragement.