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Statement on Debating Society Debate

Statement on Debating Society Debate

The views of Katie Hopkins are not those of the Guild and are in direct conflict with our values and priorities, however, we recognize that everyone has the right to express and receive views and opinions, including those that may offend, shock or disturb others. 

The Guild believes that debates are a valuable way for the views of individuals to be explored, supported or rejected by those in attendance in a way that is compatible with our charitable objectives. 

We are conscious that some students find the views of Ms Hopkins harmful and we are taking specific steps to ensure that the event remains a balanced debate and not a solo platform for her own views. We would encourage students who feel comfortable to do so, to attend the event and put forward their own views on the motion, challenge the views put forward by the speakers and make their views known. 

Whilst we acknowledge that a number of students find her views and language offensive, to date Ms Hopkins has not said anything to give legal grounds to cancel the event.  We will, however, work to strengthen our processes to ensure that student groups fully consider the impact of speaker choices on the whole student body.

Specific safeguards include:

  • The promotion of the whole debate panel and not just Katie Hopkins to demonstrate the debate nature of the panel.
  • The debate is following the approved format for a balanced debate. There are four speakers with two speakers arguing for the motion and two arguing against. There will be an audience vote on the motion at the start and end of the debate. 
  • The observance of the guidance provided by the Equality of Human Rights Commission in relation to Freedom of Expression. (https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/freedom-expression-guide-higher-education-providers-and-students-unions-england)
  • The event will be ticketed and external security will be in place to ensure that only students can attend.
  • The event will be attended by Senior Guild and University management to ensure the event remains lawful.
  • The event will be stopped if there is any speech which we believe constitutes a criminal offence. A range of provisions in place to ensure the event can be stopped should this occur. 
  • All speakers at the event will be briefed on the University Freedom of Speech policy. Under this policy, all speakers must demonstrate sensitivity to the diversity of our University community and show respect to all.

 

 

 

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University of Exeter Students' Guild is a Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Charity Number: 1136468 Company Number: 7217324; registered in England and Wales Registered office: Devonshire House, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4PZ