The Telegraph: Students must have the right to avoid talks which offend them, university chief says
20 February 2018
by Camilla Turner
“Students must have the right to avoid talks which offend them, the UK’s first female black university leader has said.
“Universities should uphold free speech but in a way that is sensitive to the needs of students who have had ‘painful and difficult experiences’, according to Baroness Amos, who is Director of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas).
“Speaking at a Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) conference on safeguarding, she said that universities must create safe spaces where students feel about to discuss complex issues. ‘As universities we have a responsibility towards free speech,’ said Baroness Amos, a Labour peer.
“‘But we also have a responsibility to make sure it is done in a way which is supportive of our students who have gone through experiences where that commitment to freedom of speech can lead to extremely painful and difficult experiences.
“‘We need to support difficult and robust debate about difficult and complex issues. But we also have to respect the right of students not to attend if they so wish [and] to attend and engage in the vast debate if they so wish. We need to ensure that we create the space for students to be able to disagree and question.’”