May 02, 2007

Outcry as students invite BNP leader to campus

Students at the University of Bath have invited BNP leader Nick Griffin on to campus to speak to staff and the student body.

The controversial politician is hoping to address an audience at the university as part of a tour of the south west in mid-May. The university is currently debating if the talk should go ahead.

Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle, Mr Griffin said: "I'm scheduled to be in the area between May 13 and 16 but I know some students are in discussion with the university authorities as to the date. What I talk on will depend on whether students are interested in the BNP or the freedom of speech issue and how much opposition there is. Usually when a group of students is interested in me speaking, it is later cancelled. If it does go ahead there comes a point when having lecturers jumping up and down means the talk has to end up being about freedom of speech rather than specific policies."

John Perry, assistant general secretary of the Bath branch of the University and College Union, said news of the proposed visit had sparked an outcry among academic staff.

"The university's secretariat was due to decide yesterday but the decision must have been deferred as they have been bombarded with letters from staff saying they don't want him here. We want to challenge his ideas and policies and don't think the university is a particularly good venue for him as we want to encourage diversity among our students and staff. If Griffin is permitted to come to the university, UCU will organise the strongest public demonstration possible on the campus. We will be calling for all those who support the freedom to think to mobilise against those who brutally hate and divide."

But the university's student body said it did not follow the National Union of Students in banning those who hold extremist views from speaking. The union's vice-president of communications, Peter Yu, said: "Bath University Students' Union (BUSU) currently does not have a no-platform policy. As a result, we are not acting directly against Nick Griffin coming to speak at the university."

Mr Yu said the union was willing to give advice to those students planning to organise a peaceful protest against Mr Griffin and the BNP, but would not be taking part in the protest itself.

This is Bath


Yewtree said...

We (Bath UCU) are extremely disappointed that the University has made this decision, as we do not think it is a freedom of speech issue, but a freedom from harassment issue. There are a large number of people from diverse backgrounds at this university (including LGBT people, black and Asian people, and people from various religious backgrounds) who will feel less safe here because of this event going ahead. We will be demonstrating against the event, to show that we celebrate diversity and support a multicultural society that espouses values of respect and freedom from harassment.

I am also personally deeply dismayed and angry about this; as a bisexual Pagan, it doesn't make me feel very safe in my own workplace, and I am concerned for how it makes LGBT and minority ethnic colleagues and students feel, too.

Anonymous said...

This really is bloody shameful. Whoever made the decision needs a good kick in the arse.