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.