The issue of this tactic was raised last term as part of the strong reaction to a couple of very concerning events at the university.
The speakers in question each had long records of attacking marginalised groups – and when hate speech is aired it risks reinforcing the daily abuse that people in these groups experience. As a liberation network, this is naturally of great worry to us.
'No-platforming' asks that the university – the community we all belong to – prevents its facilities from being used to propagate views that degrade the people who experience racist, transphobic, disablist or queerphobic abuse. It also asks that our union doesn’t enable these views with its own resources.
It was with the events of last term in mind that our network discussed and reached a decision on no-platforming last Wednesday – and the result is admittedly complicated.
At the meeting, we considered 'yes' to no-platforming, in the form of us (the network) asking for liberation groups to be given a veto by the union / university to block events with hate speech. We considered a straightforward 'no' to no-platforming: opposition to blocking such events in any circumstances. We also considered a third option, called 'Comprehensive Student Review' (by Jaz, initial proposer), asking that we keep no-platforming on the table, but only when agreed comprehensively by the entire student body, in relation to certain events.
22 people cast votes anonymously at the meeting, with myself and Evie abstaining and a few others having to leave early, or choosing not to vote. In the first round, 15 voted for CSR, 5 for opposition to no-platforming in all instances, and 2 for supporting no-platforming. Because CSR received approximately 69% of the vote in the first round, a second was unnecessary, and CSR is now adopted as the network's position.
According to the discussion in the meeting, the policy of Comprehensive Student Review is understood to entail the following practical points:
Here are some of the arguments raised in favour of CSR at the meeting (you can read the some minutes here for a fuller overview of the discussion):
There still needs to be lots of details added to flesh out our understanding of CSR, and future meetings will re-visit the policy to add the needed level of detail so that we're really prepared for future events.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the meeting last week, especially the network members who offered to speak on what is always a hard subject to discuss.