Over the past couple of weeks we have been working hard to help students across Great Britain that are facing attacks on their freedom of speech – here is the low down.
A motion was proposed at the beginning of November entitled “De-Ratify Life Society”. It included pretty terrible statements such as “university is a time when many young women may get pregnant, and is also a time when they are unlikely to want a child and therefore may opt for an abortion.” Why are students unlikely to not want to have a child? Maybe the focus should be on creating further support for student parents at university (note: if you would like to know more about this then please get in contact – we have some great resources).
The author of the motion also stated that “Life Society is a discriminatory group that alienates and will make many young women feel unwelcome on campus and therefore this society is against union policy.” Clearly, however, this policy is itself both discriminatory against minority groups and would make many who are pro-life feel unwelcome on campus.
The motion called for Newcastle Students’ Union “to de-ratify Life Society and actively work to prevent any anti-abortion groups/campaigns on campus.”
The good news? IT DIDN’T PASS. Free speech prevailed and the Life Society are still a fully ratified society – many many congratulations to their wonderful exec and supportive members who made this happen!
You can read the full motion here: https://www.nusu.co.uk/yourvoice/studentcouncil/motion/?idea=55#idea55
Cardiff University have been experiencing similar attempts to de-ratify their society. A petition was started that demanded the “Disbandment of ‘Students For Life’”. The petition says that “’Students For Life’ claim to be an organisation dedicated to providing support, understanding and compassion for vulnerable young women, yet they are, of course, gravely dishonest in their earnest ambitions. ‘Students For Life’ serve to exploit the trauma of abused women to satisfy their own self-interested political and religious agendas.”
However, Cardiff is a secular and apolitical society who do indeed support vulnerable young women. Last year, they helped ensure that student parents were supported by proposing a Student Parent Support Motion. They often have talks from organisations that assist women in crisis pregnancy situations or those that need healing from abortion including Life and most recently Rachel’s Vineyard. You can read the full petition here: https://www.change.org/p/cardiff-university-demand-the-disbandment-of-students-for-life.
Cardiff has also been subject to targeted discrimination by candidates running in elections. One student running for Women’s Officer included in her manifesto that she would introduce “a Pro-Choice student environment providing unbiased information, advice and support; including a continuation of my current campaign against the misogynist Anti-Choice society.” Fortunately for the society, this student was not elected.
Strathclyde are still trying to affiliate to their Students’ Union but are being rejected on the grounds of a policy that doesn’t even exist yet. You can check out the policy here: http://strathstudents.com/sites/default/files/No%20Platform%20to%20Anti%20Choice%2004.10.16.pdf. It includes quite the compliment for APS saying “since the ‘Alliance of Pro Life Students’ was set up, more and more anti-choice groups have been established in Student Associations in the UK.” However, it includes outrageous comments such as “having access to safe abortion may be a determining factor in whether or not someone is able to continue their studies.” As I said when talking about Newcastle, having access to abortion should NOT be a determining factor. That is NOT a choice.
The motion asks that “anti-choice groups should not be affiliated to, funded or promoted by the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association.” The motion was first proposed at a council meeting in October but there were not enough present to vote. The same happened last week and so they have rearranged the meeting for tomorrow (November 11th).
These constant attacks on the free speech of students across England, Wales and Scotland highlights the need for pro-life leaders on campus. The Alliance of Pro-Life Students is here to stand up against these motions with pro-life groups and ensure that they continue to operate on campus unimpeded by such moves.