UEA given a red ranking for freedom of speech

The latest Spiked Free Speech Ranking was damning for UEA

Recently Spiked published its third annual Free Speech University Rankings. The survey reports that 63.5 per cent of universities actively censor speech, and 30.5 per cent stifle speech through excessive regulation. Under Spiked’s system only 6 per cent of universities were classified as truly ‘free’.

The survey ranks 115 UK universities using a traffic light system. Red meaning a university having banned and actively censored ideas on campus, amber as having chilling free speech through intervention and green as having hands-off approach to free speech.

For the second year in a row, UEA has been ranked under the red ranking for creating a “hostile environment for free speech”.

Much of the criticism is directed towards the Union for banning Page 3 and sombreros, blocking a talk by a UKIP representative and voting in favour of an academic boycott of Israel.

The University itself was given an amber ranking for restrictions on offensive speech, jokes and leaflets.

However, Spiked’s report has not been without heavy criticism. Malia Bouattia, President of the National Union of Students, criticised the findings as “flawed” and “absurd”.

The Tab Norwich reached out to the Union for a comment regarding UEA’s ranking. Amy Rust, the SU Campaigns and Democracy Officer, said: “It’s fair enough to debate things like Sombrero-gate, but these Spiked rankings are as absurd as they are flawed.

“They condemn us for taking action on homophobia and sexual harassment and condemn other Unis for having policies on bullying and blacking up.”

Amy added: “Although it’s important to recognise that there is a serious issue around the civil liberties of students and staff on campus, Spiked’s view of policies which act as supportive and preventative tools against discrimination in almost cases miss the mark.”