Young people today should be free to stake out their politics the same way my peers did 35 years ago
• Adam Tickell is vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex
Free speech on campus has once again become a point of contention. The universities minister, Sam Gyimah, has called for tough new guidelines to protect freedom of expression. His remarks come amid claims that books are being removed from libraries, and speakers banned from campuses – all because “generation snowflake” is too timid to hear discordant opinions.
The reality is, of course, quite different. Universities continue to be places where free speech thrives. Arguments about who should, and shouldn’t, be given a platform are hardly new. I studied at the University of Manchester during the 1980s miners’ strike. The then home secretary, Leon Brittan, was invited to speak at the students’ union – prompting a major demonstration. Brittan came through the back entrance and spoke to a small group inside the hall. While by no means sympathetic to the speaker, I shared the view of the students’ union executive, which supported his right to speak.
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