As a consequence of the many events held at universities that provide a stage to extremist speakers, we advocate for a policy of ‘Balanced Platforms’.
The government definition of extremism is as follows: “Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.” Also included is “calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas”.
Should a speaker be invited onto campus that has met this definition, a robust opposition must be provided. This would also be applicable to speakers from extremist organisations.
A robust opposition ensures that a speaker who shares a similar level of expertise yet, with an alternative opinion, is also invited onto the platform. Ideally a non-partisan moderator would be provided, in addition to several other speakers, so the audience can listen to a plethora of viewpoints.
For transparency purposes, the audience must be made aware of why a speaker has been flagged. The speaker in question must also be given the opportunity to respond, defend or clarify the statements presented.
We recommend that this policy is adopted by every UK student union. The union would then be responsible for filtering through the speaker requests, doing the necessary background checks, and working with the host society to adjust the event accordingly.