End Censorship at University Now: Oxford Students Silence Differing Opinion
On Wednesday 1st November at the St John’s College, University of Oxford, a pro-life student group, Oxford Students For Life (OSFL), attempted to host a discussion about the abortion debate in Ireland.
The Women’s Campaign (WomCam), a body of the Students’ Union, intent on silencing differing perspectives, disrupted the gathering by shouting, chanting and obstructing to the extent that the event was unable to continue for almost an hour.
For all the details click here.
This might not seem like a particularly big problem as the meeting ultimately happened. Yet if the college had booked the room for something else; if the speakers had other engagements; if the college had not hired security or called the police, the vent could easily not have taken place and those students wanting to shut down free discussion would have succeeded.
In other words, it was only luck which meant the discussion was able to go ahead at all.
WomCam attempted to shut down this event because they disagreed with OSFL. OSFL has the audacity to think differently on this topic from the Women’s Campaign and so they must be stopped from speaking at all.
We should be especially concerned that one of the top universities in the world, which produces many of our politicians, is apparently failing to inculcate basic respect for freedom of expression and free discussion.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. There have been several high profile events which have been disrupted or cancelled due to protests from students apparently offended by different ideas.
Examples abound (some of which, CitizenGO have campaigned on) – University of Strathclyde Students Association banning pro-life students from forming a pro-life group; the University of Sussex Student Union controlling language at the union; attempted censorship in Newcastle and Cardiff of pro-life students.
It is not only those who support our values of Life, Family and Freedom, but our political opponents – the feminist Julie Bindel and “gay rights activist” Peter Tatchel – have also been prevented from speaking at universities. The speakers were invited by some students, but then disinvited by various representative student bodies.
At the same time as this, Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, has spoken of the need “to champion free speech in UK universities”. He also said “any [universities] that failed to protect freedom of speech could be fined, suspended or ultimately deregistered by the new Office for Students (OfS)”.
This incident is a perfect opportunity for Jo Johnson to put his words into action.
Please sign this petition to Jo Johnson, asking him to take action in support of free speech at the University of Oxford.
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Jo Johnson: Defend Free Speech at Oxford University