Cardiff University Students’ Union has attempted to ban pro-life demonstrations on campus despite opposition from the University’s Islamic, Catholic and Pro-Life societies, and some pro-abortion students.
The Union’s senate last week debated the motion to “prevent affiliated societies and groups from taking part in anti-choice protests or rallies”.
The presidents of the Catholic, Islamic and Pro-Life societies attended the debate which lasted three-and-a-half hours, trying unsuccessfully to urge the senate to vote against the motion.
An initial, unofficial vote was held, indicating that the motion had majority support, after which the senate held a secret ballot to reach a final decision.
The official vote failed, however, after it emerged that the senate did not have the required number of members in attendance. The vote was thus rendered invalid, meaning that the senate will now have to debate the motion over again on a different date.
Pro-life students said they received just three days notice about the vote.
Isaac Spencer, president the university’s Students for Life society, told the Catholic Herald: “Lots of people got in touch with us to express their huge concern about the motion.
“By the Monday, I had received approximately 80 emails. A large chunk of them were from students who identified as ‘pro-choice’ but were appalled by how far the motion went to restrict freedom of expression and blatantly attacked Students for Life.
“By Sunday night, two days before the meeting and vote, we formed a broad-based coalition for freedom of speech representing and supported by the Islamic Society, the Catholic society, the Christian Medical Fellowship and the Christian Union, as well as individual students from every course, political affiliation and background, both pro-life and pro-choice, female and male.
Neil Addison, a barrister who specialises in religious freedom, said that students should take the union and university to court and apply for an injunction if the motion passed.
He added: “This is another demonstration of the increasing tendency of student unions to adopt intolerant and totalitarian policies against views with which certain groups disagree. Universities should be bulwarks of free speech and debate but instead they are becoming increasingly intolerant and closed-minded.”