A recent article which appeared from the Guardian appears to be written by a man claiming to be Adam Tickell, arguing that there is no problem with anything free-speech related on campus. Move along, nothing to see here.
If this was the real Adam Tickell, he would obviously know this not to be the case, given that a Joint Parliamentary Human Rights Committee held an inquiry into the ‘chilling effect’ of free-speech at universities (which he gave evidence to), and the subsequent ministerial intervention of Sam Gyimah, who wishes to stamp out ‘institutional hostility’ towards freedom of speech at universities; the first government intervention upholding free speech in over 30 years.
Vice-Chancellor, have you even read the findings of the Human Rights Committee which you gave evidence to? The person writing this article plainly has not, but seeing as the real Tickell is a mature, neoliberal beast slaying professional, I have no doubt that he has. He would for example be aware of the fact that the committee found that policies which ‘Tickell’ references in this article, claiming to be ‘legal duties’, are actually nothing of the sort, and that safe space policies, bureaucracy, unduly complicated guidance from the charity commission and regulatory complexity are all factors which are limiting freedom of speech on our campus.
Ultimately, the person writing this article seems, confused. It seems that he thinks that the human rights committee, in addition to the ‘free speech warriors’, are actually opposed to protests and free speech, despite messages indicating the contrary from both. Firstly, the human rights committee’s findings state that there have been ‘incidents of unacceptable intimidatory behaviour by protestors intent on preventing free speech and debate;’ which they find to be a factor leading to the chilling of free speech. This is not referring to simply protesting, exercising your rights and being difficult. This is referring to intimidation, just like the kind our Students’ Union experienced leading up the Sargon event (which they cancelled), which is much more sinister and is unacceptable.
It is my personal position, that as a ‘free speech warrior’ I support protests. I support the right to protest, as I did during the UCU protests, as I did during the Sargon protests and as I will for future protests. This statement has been made time and time again by us ‘free speech warriors’, the information is in the public domain. Surely Adam Tickell would not seek to misrepresent his students by saying they oppose protests, would he?
Vice-Chancellor, are you even aware of what has been going on? Are you aware that a parliamentary inquiry has found Liberate the Debate to be victims of undue censorship, so much so that we were included as a case study for no-platforming? Are you aware that our Students’ Union is misapplying their external speakers policy so much, that this academic year, a moderate representative of the British Electorate to the European Parliament was prevented from speaking, presumably as you said ‘to prevent radicalisation’, but a speaker was welcomed to campus who has said that women can only be truly free if they live under an Islamic Caliphate? Are you aware that you have members of staff, some of them lecturers, some of them the heads of entire schools, who revel in the censorship of our events, and yet you still claim there is not a chilling of free speech? Why won’t you at least talk to us? Do you even know what has been going on?
For those interested in acknowledging that which our Vice-Chancellor refuses to, the findings of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights can be found here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201719/jtselect/jtrights/589/589.pdf