CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu
Shutterstock 685407808 5if
Religious Liberty

Students Setting Up Free Speech Societies as Concerns About University Censorship Grows

3 December 2019

Students are setting up free speech societies amidst a developing backlash against censorship on university campuses.

The University of Buckingham is the latest to set up such a group and it comes after the journalist Peter Hitchens was ‘no-platformed’ at the University of Portsmouth in February.

The new group now has 100 members and five other Russell Group universities have followed suit.

James Oliver, who set up the society at Buckingham university said: “We were delighted when the society was approved by Buckingham students’ union with no hostility. Students’ unions elsewhere have behaved appallingly in many cases. We wanted to create a community in which anybody could feel comfortable sharing and hearing different ideas – however controversial.”

At Bristol University, a free speech society was set up 18 months ago over concerns about various motions passed by the Students’ Union.

Free speech in universities

The growth of free speech societies is obviously a response to increased censorship on campuses, with universities cancelling events and speakers amidst protests.

Back in March 2018, the Joint Committee on Human Rights published a report detailing how free speech was being curtailed at universities.

The report mentions noplatforming and safe spaces as examples of limits on free speech. At the time, CARE responded to the Committee’s call for evidence. You can read our submission here.

It was confirmation of a developing concern that our universities, which should be places where ideas and free thinking are encouraged, were increasingly becoming places where genuine debate is being supressed.

At CARE, we are especially concerned about pro-life views being silenced at universities, or orthodox Christian beliefs also being marginalised. You can read examples of pro-life groups being silenced here.

The subsequent rise of free speech societies in our universities is a welcome move to try and encourage and facilitate genuine discussion and debate.

Universities must not become mindless echo chambers where only one ideology dominates at the expense of different worldviews.

Rellib

Religious Liberty

The right to freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental human right. We are campaigning to safeguard these freedoms in our society.

Find out more about the cause

Sign up for Impact Direct

We want to show a better story for our culture and society, and we want to help you be part of shaping that in structures that we are given as citizens in the UK.

Our weekly email, Impact Direct, is about helping you stay informed, up-to-date, and equipped to engage in culture and society.

Sign up now

Recent news

Stormont 1024x768 W Hsxq Po 1v

Northern Ireland Assembly rejects abortion to birth for all non-fatal disabilities

The Northern Ireland Assembly this evening voted in favour of a DUP motion rejecting the imposition of abortion legislation which extends to abortion up to birth for all non-fatal disabilities, including Down’s syndrome.

Keep reading
Shutterstock 245930107 0 0

Pray for MLAs ahead of debate on abortion motion at the Assembly tonight

This evening, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs) will debate a motion rejecting abortion to birth for all non-fatal disabilities. The motion reads as follows:

Keep reading
Gambling 0 0

How CARE helped to address gambling related harms

One of the issues CARE has campaigned on is the issue of gambling related harm. Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of people gamble on a regular basis and for some, it becomes an addiction. The result is financial loss, relationship and family breakdown and in extreme cases, suicide as well.

Keep reading