The government will give a deadline to universities to draw up plans to counter campus radicalisation and gender segregation. The Prime Minister will also challenge the National Union of Students (NUS) on their continuing opposition to the government’s counter terrorism agenda.
David Cameron’s extremism task force meets for the first time in this parliament, and the statutory guidance for universities and colleges will come into force next Tuesday. The guidelines will attempt to put an end to university extremism and male only events favoured by campus Islamists.
Mr. Cameron will tell the task force: “It is not about oppressing free speech or stifling academic freedom, it is about making sure that radical views and ideas are not given the oxygen they need to flourish.”
Rather than completely gagging extremists, the guidelines are expected to require universities to counter radical speakers by having moderates speak alongside them, hopefully challenging them. The plans will please some free-speech advocates, who argue that intolerant and ugly views are better counter via ridicule and fierce debate than silencing.
Higher education minister Jo Johnson has also sent a strongly worded letter to the NUS president Megan Dunn. He wrote that he is disturbed by a motion passed at the NUS conference in April, where student representatives voted to “reaffirm” their opposition to PREVENT, the government’s counter extremism initiative, and to work with Salafi Islamist “civil rights” group Cage to depose it. (They students also voted to not give “fascists a platform in the student movement” and to “no-platform” UKIP.)
Furthermore, as Breitbart London reported at the beginning of the month, the NUS has gone on to organise a national tour of universities this coming term, to campaign against, “resist,” and “organis[e] non-compliance” with the PREVENT strategy.
— samayya (@SamayyaAfzal) April 21, 2015
The NUS argues that PREVENT “suppresses Muslim expression.” Black Students Officer Malia Bouattia said the counter extremism agenda, “is inviting to our campuses the same brutality that plagues Black and Muslim people at the hands of the police and state in wider society.”
The government’s Extremism Analysis Unit has concluded that there were at least 70 hate preachers hosted on British campuses last year. Queen Mary, King’s College, SOAS and Kingston University held most events, the unit said.
A report by anti-extremism group Student Rights found that between 2012-14 there were over 400 extremist events on British campuses. The report said there is “evidence that a culture conducive to the promotion of non-violent extremism has developed on a number of UK university campuses.”
“Student groups have attempted to deliberately evade scrutiny, or have actively worked to hinder Prevent delivery, and a number of student unions – including the Nation Union of Students (NUS) – have pledged to oppose counter-radicalisation work,” the report read.
“Many of the criticisms [of Prevent] appear to have been directly influenced by extremist groups, which have made opposition of Prevent strategy a significant campaigning platform. This influence has been particularly powerful with regard to accusation of racism…” Adding: “some student groups have pledged to work alongside the extremists groups which promote these narratives.”