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.
Sign this petition now!
End Censorship At Strathclyde Now