Hostile woke culture stifling free speech in universities

Fears of a backlash are causing university students to avoid inviting speakers with less popular views onto campus, a new report has found.

The paper from the Higher Education Policy Institute highlighted instances of ‘quiet no-platforming’ of speakers by student organisers over fears of opposition and intimidation.

Last month, research carried out at King’s College London revealed that UK students are increasingly concerned that free speech is at risk in their universities.

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Josh Freeman, the author of the new study, explained: “‘Quiet’ no-platforming, a form of self-censorship, occurs when speakers who would otherwise have been invited to an event are not invited because of their previous ‘problematic’ comments or views.”

Based on interviews with 21 student event co-ordinators from universities across the UK, Freeman found that most “had at some point engaged in some form of quiet no-platforming”.

He added: “The extent of self-censorship was much more widespread than the relatively few cases of no-platforming publicised in the national press.”

Freeman reported that many interviewees had experienced vocal opposition. He commented: “in the most severe cases – students were targeted for harassment and abuse”.

‘Speak louder’

Commenting on Freeman’s findings, The Times called on universities to challenge the “burgeoning” problem of “banning speakers”.

“Universities”, the newspaper said, “need to challenge those who seek to stymie the free exchange of speech and ideas on campus.”

“The only response to quiet no-platforming is to speak louder.”

Key challenge

At the beginning of the month, Oxford University’s Vice-Chancellor called on the university to uphold free speech for its staff and students amid reports of intimidation.

Professor Dame Louise Richardson said: “I have been shaken by the level of threat and harassment experienced in recent years by some of our academics, especially female academics, and especially via social media.”

Prof Richardson highlighted “the need to preserve academic freedom and freedom of speech” as one of “four key challenges for the years ahead”.

Also see:


Gender-critical prof quits after campaign of abuse by trans activists

Sharp rise in rejected speakers on campuses raises free speech concerns

Oxford college run by former Stonewall chairman apologises for axing Christian event

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