Government intervenes in campus free speech
Universities Minister wishes to take action against ‘no-platforming’ at campuses nationwide
The government has decided to take action against the so-called 'chilling' crackdown on free speech that is allegedly taking place among many British university campuses. This is the first government intervention in university free speech since 1986 and will effectively ban students from protesting a visiting speaker.
The government has accused students of 'institutional hostility' towards those who have certain viewpoints: anti-abortion; Christian groups and those opposed to transgender self-identification. A recent example in Cambridge were the protests against the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg whose controversial views have attracted him both fans and enemies.
As well as this, the government helps to stop 'no-platforming' in which either certain controversial speakers are cancelled or others refuse to share a stage with them. The government believes this to be a gross misinterpretation of university speech laws that were originally intended to prevent fascist speakers on campus.
The rules will be created with involvement from NUS representatives, vice-chancellors, and regulators.
The current universities minister, Sam Gyimah, hopes this will begin 'a new chapter' for openness. In a statement he said: 'A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling.'
It is yet unknown the exact content of the laws or how the student body at large will react to them.