A group of abortion activists had to be confronted by security after they targeted a pro-life stall at Oxford University’s freshers’ fair last week.
The activists binned materials being offered by members of the Oxford Students For Life (OSFL) group while they were exhibiting at the University’s freshers’ fair. They also refused to leave until they received assurances from security that the group would not be permitted to reinstate their stall.
They threatened to tear it down again if the students put it up again, and witnesses reported the protestors tussled with the pro-lifers at the stand.
The OSFL said it was “disappointed” but “grateful” to those at the fair who “worked to protect our right to maintain our presence there”.
The University blasted the activists’ actions, with a spokesman saying the institution “supports the right of all our students and student groups to express views of all persuasions within the law”.
“We therefore condemn this afternoon’s protest against the Oxford Students for Life stall, which was an attempt to deny the right of expression to others.
an attempt to deny the right of expression to others
“We have a robust freedom of speech policy which states that ‘within the bounds set by law, all voices or views which any member of our community considers relevant should be given the chance of a hearing’.”
‘Intolerance and discrimination’
It follows death threats being sent to the University of Exeter’s pro-life society by abortion activists after its freshers’ fair.
The Students for Life society faced a petition calling for its abolition and then had to contact police after members were threatened.
Exeter’s Students Guild responded by saying it “supports freedom of speech”.
It added that it wanted to “foster an environment where our members can participate fully, feel able to question and challenge, express new ideas, discuss controversial and or unpopular opinions within the law – all without fear of intolerance or discrimination”.
Last year, a midwifery student won an apology and settlement from the University of Nottingham, after she was banned from her hospital placement over her pro-life views.
Julia Rynkiewicz was suspended from her placement after a lecturer reported her involvement with the University’s Students for Life society.
The student midwife said: “What happened to me risks creating a fear among students to discuss their values and beliefs, but university should be the place where you are invited to do just that.”