Sam Gyimiah – education minister for universities (Source: Daily Telegraph)
Universities in the UK are in “danger of developing a mono-culture” where only certain political and ideological views may be expressed, Mr. Sam Gyimah, the Conservative MP for East Surrey, and a minister in the education department has warned.
Mr. Gyimah said one student he met during a nationwide tour of university campuses had “Conservative bitch” written on her bedroom door after airing her political views in a lecture.
In another university, a student had his car egged for expressing his political opinions, the Member of Parliament said.
Speaking to students at King’s College London, Mr Gyimah said attempts to suppress free speech and open debate at universities are ‘chilling.’
The minister will announce a “tough guidance” program on the issue at a free-speech summit that he is chairing today in London, reports The Times.
Under the proposals, the Department for Education would take steps to protect free speech on UK campuses; the first government intervention on the issue since the free speech duty was imposed on universities as part of the Education Act in 1986, says the newspaper.
The guidelines will state that all shades of opinion must be welcome at universities, as long as it does not violate existing laws – for example, on encouraging terrorism. Any university or student union in breach of the rules may be “named, shamed or even fined” by the new Office for Students (OfS) regulator, which will have the power to deregister universities, according to the Daily Mail.
“A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing particular views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling,” Gyimah is expected to tel his audience at King’s College, London. “There is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus.”
The Times reports an investigation by MPs which found “campaigners against abortion, Christian groups and conservative secularists were among those who have been denied a hearing, and even subjected to violence to prevent tem speaking at British universities”. Feminists who oppose transgender self-identification have been met with similar resistance.
Political figures have also been subjected to this form of censorship by left wing activists at universities. In February, pro-Brexit Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was caught in the middle of a fight on Bristol University campus when protesters violently disrupted a student event to prevent him speaking.
The new proposals were criticised by Labour’s shadow universities minister, Gordon Marsden, who said that Gyimah was trying to “micromanage free speech issues”. Marsden added that any discussions about regulation should be conducted in the open, rather than at private meetings inside the Department for Education, The Guardian commented.
Marsden might have a point except for there having been an outraged response from the public at reports of people such as Prof Germaine Greer, a lifelong feminist and author of the book The Female Eunuch being prevented from speaking because of her views on transgenderism.
Greer, an uncompromising Aistralian, said, “Having your dick and balls lopped off does not make you a woman, these people will never have periods, they have no ovaries. They cannot know what it’s like to have a big, hairy, smelly vagina.
Video – Germaine Greer on transgenderism