Conservative Society suspended from Twitter by SU after criticising their record on freedom of speech

The University of Lincoln Conservative Society has been forced to hand over control of their twitter account to the Students’ Union.

Photo: Jessica Hepworth

It follows a tweet sharing a report which said the University of Lincoln had a bad record on freedom of speech.

The university as a whole was given a ‘red’ status by online magazine Spiked, which means the institution has “banned and actively censored ideas on campus”.

On Monday afternoon the society tweeted confirmation their twitter account will be suspended until May, however they plan to appeal the decision by the SU.

A Conservative Society spokesman said in a statement:

“On the 6th March 2017, the University of Lincoln Conservative Society, in compliance with a decision by the Student Union (SU) disciplinary panel, handed over control of all social media accounts to the University of Lincoln Students Union, with the accounts to be suspended until the 1st of May 2017.

“This decision was reached by the SU following an anonymous complaint over two tweets by the society account. The first, in relation to freedom of speech, linking an article from ‘Spiked’ and the second was in relation to an SU questionnaire that had to be completed before voting in recent SU elections.

“The society was very disappointed with the decision of the SU Disciplinary Panel. However, the society has collectively chosen to comply with the ban imposed by the panel and follow the correct procedures. Despite this we will appeal the ban in the correct manner, via a letter to the Chief Executive of the SU (James Brooks).

“We feel the decision that was made is misguided and disproportionate, as the society was simply trying to raise the important issues of free speech and democracy, and the tweets in question have been taken out of context.

“The society is greatly appreciative of the support that we have been shown today by many on social media. However, the society shall continue to comply with the proper SU procedures and as such will only make further comment when it is appropriate.

“Despite this issue, the society remains active and will continue to be the Conservative voice of students in Lincoln.”

The Students’ Union said in a statement:

“Freedom of speech is a fundamental value of the Students’ Union. The SU is built on a foundation where students can express opinions and ideas freely within the law.

“The Students’ Union is run by students for students. There are agreed policies in place – based on national guidance for charities – which protect students and aims to provide a safe environment in which complex issues can be discussed and debated.

“At Lincoln, student engagement in political processes is high – the recent SU elections produced the highest turnout on record – and the Union provides many different ways for students to express their views and bring about change.

“For obvious reasons, we cannot comment on live disciplinary matters concerning members of one of our clubs and societies however; we can confirm that due to a suspected breach of the code of conduct a request has been made that the Conservative Society temporarily suspend their social media account.

“Though we are aware of some areas of concern regarding Freedom of Speech, we would like to reassure you that Lincoln SU shares the same values as the University of Lincoln in this respect.

“The University of Lincoln Students’ Union is proud to protect the rights of all individuals to express their opinions, ideas, and concerns, and would emphasize that student welfare is at the heart of everything we do.”