Headlines stating “63.5 percent of universities place ‘severe restrictions’ on free speech” are enough to turn anyone into a human alarm bell, hurtling around copies of Orwell’s 1984.
Luckily for anyone walking idly around campus, you can keep your books on your shelf for now. Spiked have well overshot the mark.
The premise has traction; some universities do have dodgy records on free speech, UEA SU’s decision to ban Sombreros? Give me a break. But while things like this lay the groundwork for Spiked, the report is littered with absurd criticisms of policies like UEA’s “never ok” policy against sexual harassment. No sexual harassment. Don’t you just hate it when you’re not free to sexually harass? How outrageous. God damn liberal-generation-snowflake SU restricting my freedom.
You can go look for yourself. Using someone’s correct pronouns? Democratically choosing to boycott certain products? Cracking down on assault and stalking? Shock. Horror.
Spiked are right in that we should expose our students to things that make them think. But their headline grabbing 63.5 percent is supposed to be exactly that, headline grabbing. For now, their inconsistency can provide reassurance for anyone worried that the SU are going to send them to a gulag.