Three English student unions have blocked a pro-life charity from appearing at their Freshers’ Fair, with one saying students had officially taken a pro-abortion line.
Warwick, Manchester and Liverpool all rejected the Life charity’s application. It has now complained to the independent regulator – the Office for Students (OfS).
Life explained that its university displays aim to inform students that help is available if they get pregnant, and do not include any images of aborted babies.
Warwick Students’ Union rejected the charity because the union’s members ‘have voted to adopt a pro-choice stance’.
…violations of free speech which takes place on the campus of the university should be a cause for concern for all.
Manchester claimed the Freshers’ Fair platform was not suitable for Life, while Liverpool claimed the charity would not offer “impartial advice” to students.
Life responded by saying the students were denying freedom of expression, as well as “preventing us from advertising practical support to university students”.
In its letter to the OfS, Life highlighted comments by the organisation’s Chairman who said universities must uphold free speech.
“We are aware that the student unions are not run by the university but violations of free speech which takes place on the campus of the university should be a cause for concern for all”, Life wrote.
Anne Scanlon, Life’s Director of Education and Media, added: “We now call on the Office for Students to give weight to its words by taking action to ensure student unions are not impeding freedom of expression and university campuses remain places of rigorous and healthy debate.”
In March, a report by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said it was “unacceptable” that certain topics – like abortion – are being restricted at university.
MPs and Peers warned that such interference “could be having a ‘chilling effect’ on the exercise of freedom of speech more widely”.