Student Union Continues to Censor Minority Views - This Cannot Go Unopposed

Censorship is not the answer to disagreement

 

Student Union Continues to Censor Minority Views - This Cannot Go Unopposed

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Student Union Continues to Censor Minority Views - This Cannot Go Unopposed

Several months ago, we petitioned Strathclyde University to end their censorship of a pro-life group on campus. The University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA) had not permitted the pro-life group to affiliate. In practice, this meant that the pro-life students were unable to use any union rooms to run their events and were not entitled to any funding from the union.

This was a clear case of censorship and discrimination against a group because they hold unpopular political views. In part, due to the work of CitizenGO, the group appeared to make some headway: they were encouraged, by the union to (re-)apply for affiliation.

This application was then rejected in favour of the Equality and Diversity Committee’s (a group within the USSA) “No Platform to Anti-Choice” which effectively bars any pro-life group (now or in future) from affiliating with the USSA.

This document and its supporters are standing proudly in favour of censorship. They are saying that abortion is no longer a topic up for discussion; they are telling any people who hold minority views on abortion, to shut up, that they should not be heard.

1. The USSA is completely failing to apply their own policies as explained on their website which note “political opinion” as a “protected characteristics enshrined in the Equality Act 2010” which “should be respected, and that those who fall into these categories must not suffer discrimination.”
2. The USSA is completely failing to foster the only kind of “diversity and inclusion” which matters at university i.e. intellectual “diversity and inclusion” and instead opting for intellectual conformity and exclusion.
3. The USSA is being extremely authoritarian in deciding which ideas should and should not be heard. Today, they decide that those who hold anti-abortion views cannot be heard. Tomorrow, what else will they decide cannot be heard?

This censorship by certain members of the USSA and its support from student leaders within the USSA

• is infantilising because it seeks to ban speech which might upset people (or in their own Orwellian Newspeak), it might violate their “safe space”;
• is cowardly because the defenders of censorship are apparently utterly unwilling to debate their opponents preferring instead to silence them;
• is anti-intellectual because rather than engage with their opponents’ ideas and tell them where they are wrong, they would rather adopt the intellectually lazy position which stops them from expressing those ideas in the first place;
• is profoundly unhelpful because those holding the minority political position (in this case, the pro-life position) will continue to hold and spread their views free from public challenge because they are not permitted to express those views publicly.

Many universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Newcastle and Liverpool have “pro-life” groups. Some of these even have “pro-choice” policies as well, but they are not so intolerant and authoritarian as to prevent opposing views from existing at their university. Why then is the USSA so intolerant and illiberal in this respect?

This is not a debate about abortion. This is a debate about free speech and censorship. It is a debate between those who believe in the ideal of free and open enquiry as a founding tenet of the university, and those who reject free speech and open enquiry in favour of censorship and seek to undermine the very idea of the university.

The USSA clearly needs reminding about the importance of free speech to university life and we should end, and encourage others to end, support for the university until the university ends this censorship.

Until it stops therefore, we should encourage any alumni of the university that we know to cease funding the university and discourage any potential students from enrolling in the university.

Please sign this petition to the student union and other senior members of the university asking them to end this censorship within the university and letting them know the consequences of their authoritarian policies.

http://www.strathstudents.com/sites/default/files/No%20Platform%20to%20A...

http://strathstudents.com/equalopportunities

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-38213150

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/university-of-strathclyde-student-...

http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/12/05/pro-life-students-stratclyde-...

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14945906.Pro_life_students_banned_at_...

http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14950033.Alison_Rowat__We_should_r...

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End Censorship At Strathclyde Now

Dear University of Strathclyde Students’ Association President Raj Jeyraraj and Vice President of Diversity Simran Kaur, and to those in the Equality and Diversity Committee whom this concerns,

I recently read about the University of Strathclyde Students Association’s continued censorship of minority groups on campus – in this case, the censorship of the pro-life group, Strathclyde Life Action.

Your support of this censorship is an utter disgrace. Censoring the opposition is not the way to solve disagreements. It is deeply anti-intellectual, extremely cowardly, unhelpful and infantilising.

This is a basic matter of freedom of speech which remains one of the central aspects of university learning.

Your actions are not befitting of people who have the privilege of attending one of the finest universities in Scotland.

In particular, you are utterly failing to apply your own policies as explained on your website noting “political opinion” as a “protected characteristics enshrined in the Equality Act 2010” which “should be respected, and that those who fall into these categories must not suffer discrimination.”

Are you interested in protecting political opinion in general or only those political opinions with which you agree?

Are you interested in intellectual “diversity and inclusion” or would you rather intellectual uniformity and exclusion ?

Many universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Newcastle and Liverpool have “pro-life” groups. Some of these even have “pro-choice” policies as well, but they are not so intolerant and authoritarian as to prevent opposing views from existing at their university. Why then are you so intolerant and illiberal in this respect?

I understand that the abortion debate is highly emotive, but also note that nobody is under any compulsion whatsoever to attend any event which Strathclyde Life Action may wish to put on in the future.

In your total failure to grasp one of the basic tenets of university – free, open enquiry – you have shown yourselves unfit to lead the Students’ Association and I would even question your aptitude to be in a university environment in the first place.

Until this group is permitted to exercise its right to freedom of speech unimpeded by the Students’ Association’s unjust and authoritarian policies, I will encourage any alumni of the university that I know to cease funding the university and will discourage potential students from attending the university.

I ask therefore that, so far as possible, you undo this censorship of minority political opinions at the university and apologise to the group in question.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Student Union Continues to Censor Minority Views - This Cannot Go Unopposed

Sign this petition now!

010,000
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7,104 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.