Skip to main content

8th December 2016

Pro-life students banned from forming group at Strathclyde University

Anti-abortion students at the University of Strathclyde feel their free speech has been violated by the Students’ Association’s decision not to fund their ‘anti-choice group’

The University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA) has banned pro-life (anti-abortion) students from creating an official club affiliated with the Union.

This measure prevents students from obtaining university funding to attend anti-abortion conferences or fund any promotional events.

The USSA held a meeting to discuss this choice: “Anti-choice groups actively use intimidation and fear tactics to harass people entering abortion clinics.

“Allowing an anti-choice group to form would be a barrier to freedom, equality and body autonomy for those with uteruses on campus and therefore not only violate existing standing policy, but also act against the interests of a large amount of the student population.”

They added: “The establishment of anti-choice groups would directly contravene equal opportunities policy by giving them a platform to harass students. This in turn violates their safe space.”

However, pro-life Strathclyde students held a protest after being notified they would not be an official club affiliated with the USSA, claiming that their right to free speech has been violated according to the European Convention of Human Rights.

One pro-life student, Jamie McGowan, stated: “It is deplorable that a modern university is incapable of facilitating debate on a societal or medical issue such as abortion. Ironically, they will happily take positions on politics, but refuse to allow political debate and we feel this policy is a violation of freedom of speech.”

Chloe Lindsey, another student at Strathclyde, said: “The suppression of freedom of speech has no place in a university which claims to be liberal and forward-thinking.”

This is not the first instance in which universities have banned or attempted to prevent students or visitors from potentially offending students on campus. Cardiff University attempted to ban a talk by writer and prominent feminist Germaine Greer after her offensive remarks towards transgender women, in which she stated that undergoing sex change surgery “doesn’t make you a ******* woman”. A debate on abortion was cancelled at the University of Oxford when female students complained about the males on the panel.

However, the President of the Union, Raj Jayaraj, maintains that pro-life beliefs contradict USSA policy, and therefore should not be allowed to affiliate. In a statement, he said: “If a society representing the British National Party came on campus then we would not allow them to affiliate.”

Raj also made it clear that the pro-life, anti-abortion students could hold a university referendum to overturn the USSA’s decision.

More Coverage

University confirm potential graduation delays

An email update from The Faculty of Humanities confirms potential delays to graduation and their efforts to minimise the impact on students

Local elections 2023: Fallowfield still has lowest turnout in Manchester

Fallowfield still has the lowest voter turnout in Manchester whilst the Greens and Lib Dems made gains – here’s a full breakdown of Manchester’s Local elections 2023.

Pole and Burlesque Soc rehearsal labelled ‘degrading’ by senior staff member

During a rescheduled rehearsal outside the AGLC, two members of the Pole and Burlesque Society were attacked for their outfits and activity by a member of staff.

UCU marking and assessment boycott: Everything you need to know

Strikes continue into the 2022/23 academic year, with the UCU now pursuing a marking boycott, affecting most universities across the UK. But, what does this mean exactly?