Government declares war on safe spaces claiming they infringe freedom of speech

New legislation aims to clamp down on no platforming

Cambridge Cambridge Union freedom of speech freezepeach no-platforming NUS safe spaces

Jo Johnson, Universities minister, and brother of Boris Johnson, has led an attack on safe spaces stating that: "Freedom of speech is a fundamentally British value which is undermined by a reluctance of institutions to embrace healthy vigorous debate. Our universities must open minds, not close them."

Universities will be forced to pledge themselves to guaranteeing free speech, and to answer for the actions of student unions that no-platform speakers.

Universities that fail to ensure that free speech is being protected will be fined by the government, and universities that fail to allow controversial speakers with problematic views may even risk suspension.

These are part of a consultation process which will later be placed into law when the new body, the Office for Students, gains its legal powers next year.

Germaine Greer's invitation to the Cambridge Union has previously sparked controversy

Germaine Greer's invitation to the Cambridge Union has previously sparked controversy

These proposals on safe spaces have arisen after speakers such as Germaine Greer were almost prevented from speaking at Cardiff University, as a result of her views on transgender people.

In reference to the Greer example, Johnson argues that it was "preposterous", and that "she has every right, if invited, to give views on difficult and awkward subjects". Many of her views have been widely condemned as transphobic, especially after her comments on recent changes to the admissions policy of Murray Edwards College.

Though the government is pursuing this agenda, it fails to take into account the views of the students; according to a survey conducted by the NUS last year, 63% of students favour safe spaces.

The Tab has contacted CUSU for comment.