Two panels of opposing debaters assembled on Wednesday to dispute the controversial ‘no platform’ policy the LUU holds against hate speakers.
The argument has gained momentum in recent weeks, ignited in part by Spiked-Online’s ‘2016 Free Speech University Rankings’ whose survey found the University of Leeds to maintain a ‘hostile environment for free speech.’
The debate opened with the panellists in support of maintaining ‘no platform’ expressing their view that the policy plays an important role in protecting students.
Liron Velleman described the necessity of preventing a ‘violent threat’, as he demonstrated his concern over the presence on campus last summer of the neo-Nazi group ‘National Action’, whose open fascism caused widespread offense.
In response, Edward Hardy spoke of the need to engage hate speakers in debate to challenge their ‘abhorrent views’, something which the current ‘blanket ban’ does not allow.
The debate hinged around the two critical viewpoints of how to successfully deal with hate speakers in society: should the union exclude hate speak on grounds of protest, or should we allow speakers in the union to ‘prove them wrong’?
Both panels demonstrated eloquent, fully formed arguments, providing an intense and emotional discussion on a topic that genuinely divides opinion, something verified in how questions from the audience equally interrogated both sides. The panellists will participate in a second debate on Monday.