The campus censorship epidemic continues at British and American universities.
What’s more, it is getting worse, as Leftist students are turning on figures from their own side. Just last week, National Union of Students attempted to no-platform veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as well as Hope Not Hate founder Nick Lowles. This lunacy might be funny, but it’s also worrying.
Last Thursday, I proposed a motion at the University of Bristol Students Union to call a referendum on the University’s safe space policy. Despite an online survey of over 1,800 students suggesting that 67 per cent of people opposed the Union’s right to no-platform speakers, the motion failed.
It is a shame that Francesca Collins, the University of Bristol Feminist Society ‘Social Media Officer,’ who so hilariously bombed out of an interview whilst defending safe space policies so she could ‘no-platform’ Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, didn’t get up on the stage to argue against me.
Perhaps I might have won by default. It was in fact politics student Alex Rees, chair of the debate between Milo Yiannopoulos and Rebecca Reid at the University, who came out against me to argue for the protection of the safe space.
Our democratic right to a referendum on such a contentious issue, as I admitted last week, was always going to be voted down by the kind of people who involve themselves in student democracy. (You know the type.)
The reason many Student Unions are overrun by censorious leftists is not necessarily testament to the attitudes of the majority of students, but to the people who participate in student democracy. And this is what must change.
In a recent column, I predicted that the laughable “safe spaces” will not survive 2016. For this to happen, it is the duty of those of us inside such institutions to help take them down from within.
You might not know this, but at the majority of Student Unions, a referendum can be triggered by means of a petition. The size of this petition depends. At Bristol University for example, 350 signatures are required to trigger one. At other universities it is much less.
Generally, I’m not a fan of petitions, as they are the currency of social justice warriors to exert pressure, whether it be to ban a speaker from a University, or block Republican Presidential nominee frontrunner Donald Trump from entering the UK.
But in the case of safe spaces and campus censorship, a petition is one of the few means of challenging the status quo. Therefore I urge all students out there to get involved, and start kicking back against campus censorship and the anti-intellectual safe spaces that allow it to happen.
Beyond that, try getting involved in free speech movements such as the recently formed Students Against Censorship and be sure to invite controversial speakers to campus — especially those who wind up the progressive Left.
You can follow Ben Kew on Twitter at @ben_kew or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org