Online current-affairs magazine Spiked has launched a campaign for more freedom of speech on university campuses.
The magazine is campaigning against what they describe as a “thought police” suppressing certain views and attitudes.
Assistant editor of Siked, Tom Slater, tells The Linc that the campaign the National Union of Students (NUS) recently set up to challenge “lad culture” is an example of mistrust in students.
“Students today are treated like children by their Students’ Unions. Unsure of themselves and lacking in any political purpose, SUs have taken on the role of in loco parentis – a role students themselves never asked them to play.
“The National Union of Students (NUS) research into ‘unwanted sexual contact’ lumps together everything from ‘bumping’ to ‘groping’. However, where there is genuine abuse or harassment going on, I find it hard to believe this is only being committed by so-called lads. There’s little evidence to support it, and it all stinks of snobbery to me.”
Slater acknowledges that sexual abuse is an issue but argues that the NUS approach is flawed and aimed at the wrong targets.
“What the NUS is campaigning against is largely about catcalling and sexist jokes – I think young women can handle it. Young people are more sexually liberated. They are going to find themselves having more sexual encounters and therefore having to negotiate more awkward or uncomfortable situations. However, we should trust in young women and men, as adults, to be resilient enough to deal with that,” he said.
An NUS spokesperson said: “Affiliated unions do not have to adopt NUS policy. Our member Students’ Unions are autonomous organisations and covered by their own policies and procedures. NUS UK’s policies are not binding on our member students’ unions, although some have democratically chosen to adopt their own versions of some of our policies.”