Last Wednesday, Student Rights’ National Organiser, Eliot Miller, gave a presentation on extremist speakers and the Prevent Duty at the University of Hull.
The talk was hosted by the university Secularist, Atheist and Humanist Society (HUSAH), which champions free-thinking, and examined many of the complaints from students about Prevent in an attempt to debunk the misunderstandings and address concerns.
This included making the key point that there is no alternative to Prevent being put forward by critics, who seem to think that holding rallies, such as at Queen Mary this week, is a substitute for comprehensive safeguarding policies.
Following the event, Becky Lavelle, President of HUSAH, said:
“It was a thought-provoking evening discussing a topic I’m sure we can all agree is both important and relevant considering the current political climate.
Students should always welcome free and open debate of what are potentially controversial issues, and in particular the Hull University Secularist, Atheist, and Humanist Society (affectionately known as HUSAH) has always pushed for such conversation on campus.
It was an interesting event and we would gladly welcome Elliot or other representatives from Student Rights or the Henry Jackson Society to run activities in Hull again.”
Amy Jackson, Vice President Activities at Hull University Union attended the event, as did a representative from the university in charge of implementing Prevent on campus.
One of the major issues of debate was how London-centric Prevent-related legislation and guidance can appear, and how Islamism-inspired extremism is not as relevant a threat in East Yorkshire as far-right extremism.
Another issue was when we draw the line on freedom of speech. There were multiple different views here, and the consensus was that it is important each speaker and group is examined on a case by case basis.
Here at Student Rights, we are committed to balanced debate on controversial issues, and only advocate ‘no-platforming’ in the most serious cases, as outlined in our Model External Speaker Policy.
We are also keen to give more workshops and talks on campus to offer an alternative to the lack of debate when it comes to the Prevent Duty and safe spaces on campus.
If you would like to get involved with Student Rights or host an event on your campus please get in touch.