Compiled by the online magazine Spiked, the report rates universities on freedom of speech, awarding them ‘red’, ‘amber’ or ‘green’ status. A red-light score is the worst ranking that a university can receive. The free speech university rankings say a red-light score is; “a university that has actively censored ideas on campus.”
The report claims that, “the university and it’s union has created a hostile environment for free speech” this could be linked to the Mark Meechan otherwise known as ‘Count Dankula’ talk arranged by the Libertarian Society. It was banned due to the Youtuber being previously convicted for being grossly offensive.
In January this year, Ex-UKIP MEP was also a banned speaker the Libertarian Society had arranged to speak at the university. This was also cancelled due to “documented record of the speaker acting in a way which is inconsistent with our policies”. Stirling Union is among a few universities to establish “no platform” policies in order to protect students. This is the main reason the Union has received this score again.
The Libertarian Society Club President Stuart McLuckie said, ” Regarding the Spiked! article, though I personally find its content not to be the most reliable source pertaining to the measurement of free speech at Universities, I personally find the ranking to be entirely accurate”.
In regards to previous situations this year he added,” This year alone, we have found that the Union is more than willing to ban speakers they find to be “risks” to the student body, determined by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy among others, simply because they have made colourful remarks. However, it is apparent that this enforcement is inconsistent,” questioning why the additional security measures for the Politics Society’s event with an Israeli diplomat was not seen as a risk to student safety.
McLuckie also highlighted issues surrounding free speech and political neutrality on campus, he accused the union of having a “blatant political bias” and “treating its own democratic processes with contempt,” citing the implimentation of the People’s vote motion and claimed that the Save Our Student Union motion “has not been given any kind of recognition at all” after a year of it being voted through.
Vice President of Communities Jamie Grant said,” ‘The policies of the University of Stirling Students’ Union are democratically guided by our student members.’ When the Union receives a number of complaints from students it then takes action.
The university is one of six in Scotland with a red-light score alongside Edinburgh, Dundee, Abertay and others. Additionally, a recent talk from Israeli diplomat at the university held by Polsoc sparked protests but was not banned by the union. The idea behind the union banning certain speakers is to keep it an inclusive and safe place for everybody.