Student Rights on campus at Sheffield University

On Tuesday 25th April, National Organiser Elliot gave a presentation on the Government’s Counter-extremism policy Prevent at the University of Sheffield’s Conservative Association.

The talk started with a discussion of the different types of Extremist groups we find on campus and what makes them problematic. Afterwards Elliot set out how to challenge the myths and misconceptions that surround the debate on Prevent.

A Key point from the talk was that those who advocate for scrapping the policy have no alternative in place and that the NUS and local student unions think that holding rallies is a substitute for a comprehensive strategy.

Laurence Smith, President of the University of Sheffield Conservative Association made the following comments.

“Student Rights highlights an issue which far too often students feel uneasy discussing. Not only does the workshop highlight what kinds of organisations and individuals do have access to students on campus but it has helped build confidence to begin calling out such extremism when it does raise its head.”

Students need to have the confidence and resources to challenge extremism being brought to campus by intolerant speakers and groups with controversial views.

A controversial issue for the group was where we as a society in the United Kingdom draw the line on freedom of speech. On the one hand we advocate freedom to say things that others might not be comfortable hearing, yet when it comes to hate speech and incitement to violence we call for University interventions.

There were multiple different views here, and the consensus was reached that it is important each speaker and group is examined on a case by cases basis.

We at Student Rights only advocate ‘no platforming’ in the most serious cases, as outlined in our Modern External Speaking Policy.

There was also a focus on the cases of students who have been convicted of plotting attacks in this country, as well as those caught trying to travel overseas to fight for terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. The Henry Jackson Society’s most recent report is on student fighters ‘Spotting the Signs: Identifying Vulnerability to Radicalisation among Students.’

Student Rights are looking to put on more campus events and if you would like your University to get involved please be in touch. We can put on workshops and talks to offer an alternative to the lack of debate on Prevent Duty and safe spaces on campus.

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