Students ‘disappointed’ and ‘saddened’ by Lincoln SU’s free speech decision

Students involved in a free speech campaign at the University of Lincoln have responded to the news that the Students’ Union has rejected a motion on freedom of speech.

Hannah Barr (left) organised a protest on free speech last March, which led to an emergency ASM where Josh Grinsell (right) put forward the motion.

In a statement on their website, Lincoln SU said freedom of speech ‘does not override’ the trustees’ duty to regulate social media and other platforms ‘to protect the wider student body from discrimination and abuse’.

Josh Grinsell, who put forward the initial free speech motion at an all student members meeting in March, said: “I am saddened to hear that the Board of Trustees have rejected the motion.

“The motion presented was not calling for specific action to be taken, but for the Union to undertake a review of their freedom of speech policy.”

In the news article, the Students’ Union went on to add that ‘The Union Believes’ section of the motion – which, amongst other things, includes said review of the SU’s policy on freedom of speech – ‘does not represent the views of the Trustees’.

In response to this, Josh said: “The Board of Trustees alone does not constitute the Union, but it’s members do.

“[Students] have expressed in a meeting where the motion was passed unanimously, and in conversations afterward, that they wanted the free speech policy to be reviewed.

“I also wish to note that I was not consulted by Union staff or the Board of Trustees regarding their decision before they issued their statement, either by telephone or other means of communication.”

Meanwhile, Hannah Barr, who planned a student protest on free speech earlier this year, said all of the organisers were ‘extremely disappointed’ by the outcome.

“It seems that old habits die hard, and the SU trustees are most concerned with doing what is least difficult for them than what is just and fair for the students they were elected by.

“In none of the cases of the Conservative Society, the Feminist Society and some of their own SU workers who had to resign from their posts due to the SU silencing them, did any of them throw ‘abuse’ or ‘discrimination’ at the Student Union. They were simply airing a sceptical opinion and the SU didn’t like that.

“My opinion amongst others around me on the matter agree that the rejection of our proposed and legitimised motions is simply another paper-written excuse to do nothing and to never take responsibility for their harmful practises,” she said.

Although the motion was rejected, the Students’ Union’s trustees will review the Union’s disciplinary procedures and External Speakers Policy, with the SU’s Chief Executive proposing changes to the disciplinary policy at a board meeting in September.

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