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Derby Uni professor believes 'safe space' and no-platforming policies put staff at risk


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With universities showing an increase in censorship over the last three years, Professor Dennis Hayes of Derby University has written to Universities UK in order to warn them that the work of universities is being put at risk by ‘safe space’ and no-platforming policies.

These policies are usually enforced by student unions and the NUS in order to protect students from forms of discrimination and also from any behaviour or language that could be deemed as offensive. However, Professor Hayes believes that now, when you go to university, “you learn what not to say,” suggesting that there is a “climate of censorious quietude” that leads to important topics and issues not being discussed.

He highlighted that there is a belief that people cannot discuss more sensitive issues such as LGBT rights, racism, abortion and sexual assault unless they have direct experience of them, and that the discussion of them can get staff “into serious trouble” and risk losing their jobs. He wrote to the university bosses in order to remind them that one of the key purposes of university is to create an environment in which students and staff can discuss and challenge ideas freely.

The NUS lists six groups on their ‘no-platform’ list including the BNP. Their guidelines state that student unions should “balance freedom of speech and freedom from harm”, meaning that individual universities can and should be able to make their own decisions regarding ‘no-platforming’ certain groups or speakers.

Image courtesy of the NUS.

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