We are aware of the current discussion...
February 2022 Update
An investigation was carried out into the conduct of the Exeter Students for Life (ESFL) Society committee members on social media. The investigation was carried out by an external and independent investigator and the outcomes and recommendations have been communicated to the committee members, and to the students who made complaints.
The investigation focused on the conduct of the society committee and not the existence of the society itself. As a charity regulated by the Charity Commission, the Guild is bound by a complex framework of guidance surrounding campaigning and political activity, and therefore it was not for this investigation to make recommendations around whether the society should or should not be supported by the Guild. The recommendations made also address how the Guild may be able to better balance its duty to secure freedom of speech with its duty of care to members, and those recommendations are being implemented.
4 October 2021
You can find our full statement below. Your Full-Time Officers released a message on 5 October which you can find here.
We are aware of the current discussion around the Students for Life Society and a petition around calling for the disaffiliation of the society. We acknowledge that this is an emotive topic to a lot of our community and we can understand that it is something people have different views on and feel strongly about.
As your Students’ Guild, we support freedom of speech. We want to foster an environment where our members can participate fully, feel able to question and challenge, express new ideas, discuss controversial and or unpopular opinions within the law- all without fear of intolerance or discrimination. We are committed to the principle that both debate and deliberation should not be suppressed, and we encourage and support our members to engage, within the law, in both a constructive and responsible manner to contest any ideas they oppose openly and vigorously.
Any Guild member (which is any student at University of Exeter) can apply to start a new society, and although there is a criteria set for this, the above consideration of free speech enables students to establish groups with a diverse range of views. The role of Exeter Guild is to facilitate these groups, including when these views may be challenging or emotive.
We do however have a set of values and code of conduct that we expect all student groups to follow, and we investigate any alleged breaches of these. Students can make a formal complaint where there is a belief our code of conduct has been breached, which will be thoroughly investigated.
As this is an important conversation, we understand that it can bring up different emotions for students. That whilst we’re here to facilitate open debate, we’re here to support all students’ wellbeing, if you have been impacted please reach out to:
If you have been impacted by or been witness to any form of harassment, you can report it through the University’s Speak Out.
We also encourage these conversations occurring around free speech and the role of your Students’ Guild in facilitating a diverse array of student-led groups and opinions, and we welcome students to attend and contribute to this discussion at our upcoming Guild Council meeting on Wednesday 6 October.
Further on from our statement yesterday which is above, there are two additional points that we wanted to clarify.
- The Students for Life Society were affiliated in March 2019 in accordance with our Society Affiliation Process. The Affiliation Process is not about taking a view on whether the Guild agrees or disagrees with a particular student group's views- it is about discharging the Guild's responsibilities with regard to the management and administration of student groups.
- Societies are self-funded through society membership fees, tickets for events and activities, sponsorship, grants and more. Societies are welcome to apply for our society grants, these are awarded based on the assigned criteria.