End Censorship at University Now: Oxford Students Silence Differing Opinion

Turn Your Words Into Action: Defend Free Speech

 

End Censorship at University Now: Oxford Students Silence Differing Opinion

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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.

https://blog.oxfordstudentsforlife.co.uk/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/university-free-speech-no-platform-fines-jo-johnson-department-education-office-for-students-a8007941.html

https://www.oxfordsu.org/news/article/6013/Right-to-protest-Right-to-choose/

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Jo Johnson: Defend Free Speech at Oxford University

For the attention of Jo Johnson MP,

As Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, and given your recent call for the new Office for Students to stand up for free speech on campus, I trust you were as outraged as I was on hearing the news about the stifling of a discussion about abortion in Ireland which took place on the 1st Nov in St John’s College Oxford.

As I’m sure you are aware, a student group, Oxford Students for Life, attempted to host external speakers Breda O’Brien and Lorcan Price, but were prevented from doing so for almost an hour due to a planned protest by the University of Oxford’s Student Union’s Women’s Campaign (WomCam).

Protesters shouted, chanted and obstructed the event to the extent that the discussion was unable to proceed. Eventually, due to the patience and helpfulness of the College, the protesters were removed by the police and the meeting allowed to continue.

However, had the speakers other engagements, had the college needed the room for other events or a host of other contingencies, this assembly might never have happened.

The censors at WomCam, an official body of the Student’s Union, very nearly succeeded in suppressing the speech of those they disagree with.

Given your call “to champion free speech in UK universities” I ask you now to put words into action and use your position as Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to ensure a just outcome.

  1. A serious investigation needs to be carried out into the Student’s Union which is apparently fostering an atmosphere of shutting down debate.
  2. The Students’ Union should apologise for the actions of one of their constituent bodies – WomCam.
  3. The University should take appropriate action against the students involved who evidently do not understand how a university should function.
  4. According to the Times, you said “any [universities] that failed to protect freedom of speech could be fined, suspended or ultimately deregistered by the new Office for Students (OfS)”. Whilst the college itself did an exemplary job in ensuring the discussion was able to continue, the university, by failing to take action against the Students' Union and WomCam in particular, is failing in its duty to respect freedom of speech.

Unless specific action is taken on your part in support of free speech at this university, your pronouncements are empty. Censors at the Students' Union will continue on the same trajectory knowing they can do so with impunity.

This is your chance to prove your integrity: if you truly wish for free speech to be protected on campus, now is the time to act.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

End Censorship at University Now: Oxford Students Silence Differing Opinion

Sign this petition now!

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6,235 people have signed. Help us reach 10,000 signatures.