A petition put forward by LGBTQ* Students’ Representative Emily Pinto to have UKIP banned from the University of Sussex campus is currently being reviewed by the Students’ Union Policy Panel after achieving the required amount of signatures to trigger a referendum or Emergency Members Meeting.
The petition, which argued that ‘The Students’ Union should not invite representatives of the political party UKIP to attend or speak at events on campus, received 150 signatures last week.
The Policy Panel are currently considering whether banning UKIP politicians and speakers from campus will incur any legal consequences.
The Students’ Union confirmed that they are seeking legal advice and advice from the National Union of Students regarding the issue.
The Students’ Union ‘safe space’ policy states: “the Union is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive environment without fear of sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, or any other form of discrimination,”
Pinto and the signatories consider the political party UKIP to fall under this umbrella, specifying in the petition incidents regarding same-sex marriage, and immigration.
Michael Segalov, Students’ Union Communications Officer, said: “In this instance the policy panel felt that there may be legal consequences for withdrawing union involvement for events where UKIP are present. We are bound by charity legislation, the representation of the peoples act and the new lobbying act, all of which dictate the Unions’ abilities to engage with political parties. I am keen to ensure we deal with this issue as a matter of urgency to allow students to vote on this issue.”
Some students, it seems, question whether it would be fair to allow other figures from other political parties to speak on campus and not UKIP.
A Politics Society committee member said: “I think it’s completely against freedom of speech! The whole point of university is for people to see a range of views and then for individuals to pick what they feel is right and wrong. I’m surprised that Sussex would even consider letting this petition go through, especially as it claims to be so democratic. Even if you don’t agree with UKIP I would hope most people would agree with the freedom and right to present your views.
The local UKIP candidate for the 2015 election, Nigel Carter, said that he would like to have been given the chance to tell students the “truth about UKIP” before the petition was run.