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Cardiff Students’ Union receives ‘red’ ranking for freedom of speech

However, criteria called into question by students

Cardiff University has been awarded ‘amber’ on its attitudes towards free speech, while Cardiff University Students’ Union has maintained its ‘red’ ranking.

These results came after a nationwide investigation of all UK universities on their attitudes towards free speech, examining their various policies and the past actions of the organisations concerning freedom of speech.

The survey stated that institutions with a ‘red’ ranking have ‘banned and actively censored ideas on campus’, while those with an ‘amber’ ranking have ‘chilled free speech through intervention’. Universities with a ‘green’ ranking were reported to have ‘a hands-off approach to free speech’.

Cardiff University’s ‘amber’ ranking was acquired for the second year in a row, due to its continuation of policies such as:

  • Dignity at Work and Study
  • Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment

  • Sexual Orientation Policy

  • Religion and Belief Policy.

The university also banned the Cardiff University football team in 2013 for two weeks after they delivered a presentation on how to sleep with women with low self-esteem, making jokes about date-rape and domestic violence.

The Cardiff University Students’ Union received their ‘red’ ranking due to a number of bans on various different things dating back to 2013, when they banned the promotion of ‘cruel’ sports and, most notably, the Sun newspaper. The latter of these bans was initiated under the Union’s Policy on Sexist Media and Advertising.

In November 2014, comedian Dapper Laughs had his show at the Union cancelled, following a petition created by students lobbying the Union for the gig not to be held at Y Plas.

A spokesman for the Union said at the time: “The views of Dapper Laughs go against our policies and everything we stand for”.

The ban was also put in place as a result of the Students’ Union’s Anti-Lad Culture Policy.

Members of the Union also attempted to stop feminist icon Germaine Greer from speaking in October 2015, following another online petition that campaigned for her scheduled lecture to be cancelled after comments she made regarding transgender people.

However, the research’s criteria has caused anger amongst members of the University, with many stating that the rules in place are made in the interest of helping students and members of staff.

Defending Cardiff University’s decision to impose various bans, one English student said: “By banning sexist and transphobic speakers the university has protecting minority students and created an atmosphere of acceptance”.

Another Cardiff University student added: “I think there is a big difference between free speech and bigotry”.

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  • Guilty as charged. I never liked the Sun’s page three, even when I was a teenage boy. However, if a woman wishes to display her breasts, on a free-the-nipple march, Femena demo or in a newspaper who am I, you or Cardiff Union of Students’ to ban her? Material which demeans women is on the internet which is piped into every student’s bedroom. So the Ban is tokenistic as well as Puritain. Of course the fact ban removes a
    the most popular British conservative voice, from the University shops is purely accidental by product, yea ha ha..
    Since childhood I disliked fox hunting, and I rejoiced at the ban of the activity. However, what possible justification is the “cruel sports” promotion ban. I wondered why I never saw the country side alliance at university. So it is right The Cardiff University Students’ Union received their ‘red’ ranking due to bans on various different things dating back to 2013, when they banned the promotion of ‘cruel’ sports and, most notably, the Sun newspaper. The latter of these bans was initiated under the Union’s Policy on Sexist Media and Advertising.I don’t like a lot of the things and views above. However, those who want them have their rights and many ideas now popular were once taboo. These are not Liberal values I am espousing. They are enlightenment values Liberals, Conservatives and most Socialists hold them. To quote Naom Chomsky “if free speech does include people you despise, it means nothing.”

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