British Government fights back against anti free speech universities and the rise of hysterical social justice
"the heads of the institutions who support this system are doing you and your peers a huge disservice."
Universities will be told that they must uphold free speech and clamp down on student unions that “no platform” controversial speakers, the government is to announce. The newly created Office for Students set out by universities minister Jo Johnson MP has set out plans to challenge the rapidly increasing culture of so-called safe spaces in universities. The OfS will be given the power to fine, suspend or register universities that fail to protect freedom of speech on their campuses.
The OfS are set to receive its legal powers in April 2018. They will be able to hold institutions to account over their responsibility to protect free speech by ensuring it is maintained by staff, student unions and student societies, the Department for Education (DfE) has stated.
This comes at a time when student unions and student campaigners have banned, or tried to ban, a number of high-profile people from speaking at universities because of their controversial opinions. The National Union for Students (NUS) has their own ‘no-platform’ list, in which one recent survey commisoned by the Victoria Derbyshire programme, found that 63% of students are in favour for this to be implemented and half (54%) think the NUS is right to enforce the policy against individuals they believe threaten a safe space.
Kings college London have recently started to hire ‘safe space’ marshals to patrol events checking for offensive content. They supervise and inspect talks which have been risk assessed for ‘safe space’ breaches. Marshalls were at the scene for a talk carried out by Conservative MP Jacob Rees Mogg recently. Bemusement ensued among the student community, who heavily and brutally criticised the University over its decision to employ these marshals at a rate of £11.89–13.32 an hour.
Professor Dennis Hayes, Co-founder of ‘Academics for Academic freedom’ states that “Universities are run by a culture of censorious quietude – academics are not able to discuss anything difficult”. Jo Johnson MP has warned that the erosion of free speech on campuses “jeopardises Britain’s standing as an intellectual power house.”
Spiked magazines yearly ‘Free Speech University Rankings’ which started in 2015 and is overseen by Prof. Dennis Hayes, found that 94% of universities are shown to have either restricted or actively censored free speech and expression on campus. Birmingham University have banned sombreros and native American dress from being worn on campus after they were branded as ‘racist’. Their Union vice president commented stating “it is an imitation of a culture and relates to a stereotype about the race of that particular ethnicity group, even if the intention is by no means harmful at all.”
Earlier this year in March, Cardiff Metropolitan University had banned phrases such as “right-hand man” and “gentleman’s agreement” in favour of more inclusive, gender neutral language. “Forefathers”, “mankind” and “sportsmanship” are also on the list of 34 words and phrases to be shunned as part of efforts to “embrace cultural diversity” by the university. Students and staff can face disciplinary procedures if they fail to comply with this language policy.
30 UK based universities have banned the Sun newspaper on campuses, Swansea University has banned pole dancing societies as it links to sex. And just last month Oxford College has banned the Christian Union from its fresher’s fair on the grounds that it would be “alienating” for students of other religions, and constitute a “micro-aggression”.
The problem with universities and the majority of the students who maintain a very left leaning liberal approach in which they contain and maintain all their beliefs and opinions is the overall lack of humility and the overwhelming hubris they manifest. These young adults want their administrations to referee the disagreements on the playing ground in their favour instead of dealing with direct communication with the other. And as a result, ignoring or completely denying the others point of view out of apathy to learn anything from the other person. As they solidify their own self-righteousness and virtue signalling to their friends and peers, while maintaining the stance that the other is morally inferior, not worth the time and therefore the problem.
There is a strange apolitical calculating mechanism at work as to who exactly should be censored based seemingly exclusively on a wider judgement on the potential to ‘upset and offend’. The Solution to ‘bad speech’ is more speech, not restricted speech. Vulnerability in modern society has become a badge that way too many are proud to wear. Students, myself being one of them are seen less and less as confident mature adults and more often we are the opposite. Protection is not what we need on University campuses. We need to be confronted by all ideas especially the most wicked and horrible. The world is a horror show and we need to be succumbed to the full extent of what has been possible already in the real world by focusing more of our attention on world history as an example. So, stay home, lock the door and I would suggest not to bother going outside at all if you deem ‘safe spaces’ a wholly necessary system in the way you want your life to be structured and supported. And the heads of the institutions who support this system are doing you and your peers a huge disservice. We need to be armed with the capacity to communicate confidently, to deal with horrors, to arm us with arguments and to engage in intellectual battle. To build a willingness to hear every idea and to communicate intellectually and with structure. Everything you believe in and hold dear to you ideologically should be challenged in every possible way, not violently or destructively but to be able to dismantle in consultation with the other, and attempt to build something with more function and beauty at the end of it. You need to be exposed to the things you fear and hate because that’s where salvation and truth lies.