Spiked rates Sussex as “hostile” to freedom of speech
The University of Sussex and the Students’ Union create a “hostile environment for freedom of speech on campus, according to recent study by Spiked.
Released last week in their ‘free speech university rankings’, Spiked discovered that 80 percent of institutions in the UK uphold and abide by policies which stifle free speech and debate on campus, including the University of Sussex.
As a combination of both the University and the Students’ Union, Sussex was one of 47 out of 115 institutions surveyed which received a ‘red’ ranking, indicating high levels of censorship of campus.
Individually however, The University received a marginally better rating than the Students’ Union, receiving an amber rating as a result of its history of student discipline.
The survey flagged up the recent OIA report, which ruled that the University’s actions in suspending five students involved in anti-privitisations protests on campus was disproportionate. However, because the University accepted culpability for its wrongdoings, it’s policy was marked as amber.
The Sussex Students’ Union received a red ranking as a result of its ‘No Platform’ policy, along with 37 percent of other unions, which prohibits groups with perceived racist and fascist views from speaking at union events.
In response to the rankings, Michael Segalov, Students’ Union Communications Officer, said: “These Spiked magazine rankings are misleading, and frankly dangerous.
“They neglect to appreciate that racism/homophobia and other forms of discrimination is already illegal. To have policies in place to implement restrictions on hate speech is to be celebrated. “Instead of demonising democratic policies that create a safe environment for students, we should be discussing the new Counter Terrorism Bill that requires universities to spy on their students for thinking ‘radical’ thoughts, the injunctions being taken out to ban all forms of protest on campuses like ours, police being called onto campuses such as Warwick and pepper spraying students for holding a peaceful protest.”
The University of Sussex were contacted but were not able to comment. Overall, 51 percent of Students’ Union receives a red ranking in the study, compared to 9.5 percent of universities who received a red rating.
According to statistics by Spiked, 13 percent of Students’ Unions implement ‘safe space’ policies while universities themselves have “censorious” external speaker policies, which restricts people with objectionable views from speaking on campus and university events.
The report also detailed the lists of bans Students’ Unions have in place around the UK, which include newspapers, pop songs and unruly sports teams.
At the time that the research was conducted, 26 Students’ Unions in the UK ban the selling of newspapers with page 3 (such as The Sun and The Daily Star) in their outlets and 21 unions banned the Robin Thicke song ‘blurred lines’, which when released received criticism for its objectification of women.
Eight Students’ Unions in the UK also placed bans of unruly sports teams.