Student Idea: No Platform

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NUS imposes a regressive 'No Platform Policy' that effectively bans speakers that are considered too right-wing, even though they are a lot of the time very moderate speakers with very moderate views. The Guild should abandon this policy, because universities are centres of pluralism and free speech and debate should not be restricted.


Additional information for Idea 291: No Platform

All current Guild Policy can be found in the Democratic Policy Bylaw. The only NUS Policy the Guild has adopted is to Condemn ISIS, which was suggested as a Student Idea and was passed by Guild Council last year.

  • Idea opened on 23 October and closed on 6 November 2015
  • The Idea will go to Guild Council on Wednesday 11 November
  • The Idea was passed for action to the Student Ideas and Votes Officer
  • The idea was withdrawn by the proposer
  • The Student Ideas and Votes Officer is checking other systems for compatibility with no platform ideology in order to guarantee no such system is in place


Samuel Salzman
4:50pm on 26 Oct 15 But Ciaran, it's not just ISIS members swept up in the net. Past victims of "No Platform" include people who don't encourage violence but people who say things that other often find offensive, or that might be "divisive". The NUS has a no platform policy against groups like the BNP which, while disgusting, has a right to speak non-violently. Other No Platform victims have included Milo Yiannopoulos and Julie Bindel neither of whom have ever encouraged violence who were prevented from speaking at Manchester Uni. When non-violent speakers are swept up in the "No Platform" net and banned because somebody didn't like them, it doesn't suffice just to say "Well we must keep this policy because what if an ISIS supporter came along and were allowed to speak?".
Oliver Odell
4:29pm on 26 Oct 15 Universities exist to allow people to hear other opinions, no matter how distasteful and unpleasant some of them are. It is for the individual to go to the events and make their opinions heard, not to silence these speakers in order to avoid offence. Hosting a speaker does not imply being in accordance with them.
Frazer Ritte
4:26pm on 26 Oct 15 Can anyone actually give an example of someone banned from speaking at Exeter who shouldn't be? As far as I'm aware the only groups banned are things like Islamic extremists and far right extremists. Don't want these vessels of hate spreading their respective ideologies at my university thank you.
David Browne
4:17pm on 26 Oct 15 "The university as a whole" doesn't get a word in edgeways actually, nor should it be the business of "the university as a whole" (i.e. our 'leaders') to prevent a subset of the student body (e.g. a society) from hearing a speaker with whom the others disagree.
Alexander Roberts
2:29pm on 26 Oct 15 Free speech only provides protection from prosecution. It doesn't give the right to a platform or the right to be heard. The people and groups banned from campus have been banned because the university as a whole do not wish them to be given a platform to speak and it is our right to choose who we let speak.
Samuel Salzman
6:06pm on 23 Oct 15 It shouldn't be for the Students' Guild to decide whom we can and cannot hear. University should not be a place where sensitive souls are cossetted from opinions they don't like.
Charles Evans
5:57pm on 23 Oct 15 I raised the motion. Giles is spot on. However, I would also say that where a group is 'non-violent' and 'extremism', then the best way to defeat these fascist ideologies is to expose them and destroy them through civic discourse.
Giles Gabbutt
4:23pm on 23 Oct 15 @Roy Osborne - I totally agree, however, the opinion these fringe groups cater to is too small for any realistic audience to attend at Exeter. A more appropriate example is one that is quite recent; Milo Yiannopoulos and Julie Bindel were both barred by the Manchester SU. Whilst many disagree with these two individuals, they're by no means extremes and just hold opinions that many don't like, yet they raise valid points. I think this is what the motion is getting at.
Roy Osborne
12:20pm on 23 Oct 15 Although I agree with the idea, parties banned from speaking include Al-Muhajiroun, The EDL and the BNP. Hardly moderate speaking organisations with "moderate" views.
Giles Gabbutt
10:46am on 23 Oct 15 Free of speech applies to everyone; not just who we consider distasteful or those we disagree with. Effectively beating people in open debate is far more effective then suppression.

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