Spiked-Online recently had a look at freedom of speech at Universities all over the country. Using a traffic light system of ranking, they concluded that over two thirds of our higher education centres have some sort of restrictions on free speech. But then Free Speech always has limits.
University of London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Kingston, Derby, Chester, Brighton and many more
A sexy slice of R&B funkaliciousness, or a devastatingly misogynistic slab of lyrical and visual hideousness? It seems most universities think the latter – it’s the most banned thing across university student unions in the UK! Anyone that can serve up the lyrics “I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two” whilst twerking with a 20-year-old has probably earned both the ban and every creepy uncle award going.
It’s a Farage-free zone at Birkbeck. According to the student union, when discussing UKIP, the “homophobia, Islamophobia, disablism, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, fascism, and general discrimination is rife amongst its members, supporters, officials, and prospective candidates”. According to Spiked, the university is “an environment hostile to free speech”. NUS has a No Platform Policy of not providing a space for certain individuals/organisations to speak, and Birbeck follows this more rigidly than a clueless student follows the assembly instructions of an Ikea bookshelf. There’s also a restriction on ‘banter’. (Whey! Lad!)
(Paramount Pictures/The Mirror)
The guild that organised the fancy dress at Birmingham University in 2013 were taking no chances at their Halloween soiree. If you turned up in something they deemed racist, you were turned away. Those refused entry included “people dressed as Mexicans in sombrero hats, Native Indians and Sacha Baron Cohen’s character from the film The Dictator. If you’re a white man who’s thinking of blacking up as a soul diva, maybe best to leave your Diana Ross impersonation until after graduation.
The Sun and Daily Star
University of Birmingham, Cardiff University, University of Chester, University of Edinburgh, University of Essex and more
(Image: News International)
Certainly not a fan of Page 3, sensationalist headlines or salacious gossip, these universities are clear that red tops are on the black list. Aberystwyth University have gone one further by including the Daily Express. But how will they find out all the latest Princess Diana news?
There’ll be no Lucy Pinder, Helen Falangan or random former Hollyoaks actresses posing provocatively in lingerie at these student unions. Zoo, Nuts et al have been ripped from the top shelf and consigned to the sin bin, with many student unions describing them as “sexist”. Of course, you can still download hardcore porn on the dorm wifi.
(Image: BBC Newsnight)
The Welsh capital’s university is certainly not a fan of Dapper’s controversial ‘humour‘, after students managed to get a performance by the comedian cancelled. Whether it’s the sexist jokes or dodgy turtle necks, Cardiff isn’t having a Laughs any time soon.
George Galloway isn’t best known for being a demure wallflower, and a series of events – such as reportedly refusing to debate with a student based on his nationality and a poor choice of words when discussing Julian Assange’s rape allegations – was enough for Chester University to close the door on Gorgeous George. Gall… away!
A Satirical Jesus/Mohammed T-shirt
London School of Economics
The LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society (catchy name, guys!) were outraged when they were forced to cover up T-shirts with depictions of Jesus and the prophet Mohammed. Student Union officials said no to the ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoon and accompanying merch, and the student’s dream of a blasphemous new animated double act to rival Tom and Jerry was never realised. They did however, have professional religion-hater Richard Dawkins in their corner…
I’m “offended” by backwards baseball caps, chewing gum, niqabs, “basically” and “awesome”. Quick, LSE Student Union, ban them all.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) October 4, 2013
Everything probably offends somebody. To be on the safe side, LSE Student Union, better ban everything. — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) October 5, 2013
Payday Loan Adverts
University of Northampton, Newcastle University, Northumbria University
Banning the Payday pedlars from flogging their eye-poppingly high-interest loans (with some heading to an interest rate of 1509%) may not actually be a bad idea. Cash strapped students at these universities will just have to find bit of work in the uni bar (65 hours a week should be enough to keep you debt free), sell their kidneys or find sugar daddies. Just like the Free Speech team did… Only joking, we never sold our kidneys…
(Image: Wales Online)
The delightfully named No More Carnage rule is aimed at curbing binge-drinking group Carnage. This collective launches themselves upon the bars of an unsuspecting local high street and then does exactly what it says on the tin. Unruly behaviour, irresponsible drinking and girls wearing bunny ears ensues, while residents supposedly cower in fear. Aberystwyth even went as far as to instruct commercial bars not to serve the group, and say that Aberystwyth’s close proximity to the sea poses an even greater risk to drunk people.
(Image: Daily Mail)
While everyone knows that sunbeds aren’t exactly the best thing for your skin, there must have been plenty of pasty white puddings at Northumbria Uni scowling at their student council banning sunbed adverts. On the plus side, fake tan sales must have soared, which is good for comedy, as well skin health.
Rent-a-gob Julie Bindel didn’t manage to find much of that friendly, northern hospitality at Sheffield Uni. Their LGBTQ policy meant doors were closed on the opinionated “feminist activist” after her not-so-girl-power scribblings on the transgender community. Arguing that “sex change surgery is the modern equivalent of aversion therapy treatment for homosexuals” and referring to a trans female as a “man in a dress”, amongst other controversial statements, more than ruffled a few feathers. Not exactly our cup of tea, but enough to refuse her the chance to speak? Oh well, at least you saved on the train fare, Julie.
A pineapple Mohammed
University of Reading
Student from the Reading Atheist Society were thrown out of their freshers’ fair by union staff because they included a pineapple named “Mohammed” on their stall. Rather than risk a backlash, we’ve censored this image of a pineapple, meanwhile the pomegranate named Buddha refused to comment…