Elon Musk’s highly anticipated acquisition promises meaningful change for the Twitter landscape, with the prospect of canceled voices being soon released from the dark recesses of Twitter “jail.” Those of us who have lamented the shrinking space for free speech online should celebrate these signs of hope.
Student midwife speaks out against censorship on campus
Topic | Free Speech
Are universities stifling students’ views? Midwifery student Julia Rynkiewicz believes so, and her newly-settled case provides one such example. Rynkiewicz served as president of “Nottingham Students for Life”, a pro-life student society that was initially denied affiliation by Nottingham University’s Students’ Union.
Concerns around Rynkiewicz’s fitness to practise centered on material available at the society’s freshers’ fair stall, as well as her public association with the society. She faced a suspension and four-month fitness-to-practice investigation, disrupting her education. In the wake of the Fitness to Practise panel dismissing all allegations against her, she knew that she was unfairly targeted for her beliefs.
ADF UK was able to support Julia in securing justice, with the university issuing an apology and a settlement as a result of the way it had treated her. Yet, our nationwide polling showed that she was not the only student to be impacted by the growing culture of censorship:
- 2 in 5 students fear that lecturers will treat them differently if they express their true opinions on important issues.
- Over a third feel their careers would be adversely affected if they express their views.
- 40% stated that views held by speakers, and pressure from other student groups, has led more frequently to cancellation of events.
We knew something had to be done. So, in light of the inclusion of protecting free speech on campus in the governing party’s election manifesto, we penned a letter to Boris Johnson. We reminded him that “freedom of speech is one of our most precious rights”, and asked for concrete steps to be taken, including the publication of clear government guidance on free speech at university, and the introduction of comprehensive free speech protection training for all university staff and student representatives. Over 20,000 supporters have already joined our efforts by adding their signatures. To add your name, visit www.protectfreespeech.uk.as
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Related News and Updates
Will Finland imprison an MP over a Bible-Tweet? The Helsinki District Court has set the date for the hearing in the censorship case of Finnish Member of Parliament, Päivi Räsänen, for 24 January 2022.
Christians are finding themselves in trouble with the law for using allegedly “threatening or abusive” language. The police are too quick to penalise the speech complained of, rather than consider what rights the accused has to speak freely in public.
Is there a free speech crisis at UK universities? At least 10,000 members of the public think so and have added their name to a petition addressed to number 10.
Today, the Department for Education released a report titled “Higher Education: Free Speech and Academic Freedom”, which recognises the harmful effects of censorship at UK universities, and lays out new proposals to tackle the problem.
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