Comedian Konstantin Kisin turned down a lucrative university student union gig after being asked to sign a “behavioural agreement” restricting what he could do jokes about. The entertainer was warned about a “zero tolerance policy” on topics including racism, sexism and transphobia.
He had been invited to perform at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) in London,in an event organised by university society Unicef on Campus. Konstantin told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat the experience reflects a growing trend of free speech becoming stifled by politically correct attitudes on university campuses across the UK.
The group has since apologised and the Students’ Union says it “believes fully in freedom of speech”.
He shared the “behavioural agreement form” online, saying the title “nearly made me puke. I just think it reflects an attitude among a group of people, people at university particularly, where it seems that they have become places of indoctrination rather than learning,” he said.
“Students are being taught to prevent offence rather than to seek truth and pursue experiences.
“Universities used to be all about that, but now it seems they’re places where students are being taught to be woke. I think it reflects a broader issue, where increasingly there are people who value safety, or what they perceive to be safety.”
The full list of topics listed by the organisers were “racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism”.
The contract said: “It does not mean that these topics cannot be discussed. But it must be done in a respectful and non-abusive way.”‘