Delegates from Lincoln SU who attended March’s National Union of Students’ National Conference abstained from vote on free speech, it has been revealed.
An SU document published on Monday found that Kudzai Muzangaza (SU President), Sophia Liu (VP International), Connor Delany (current VP Welfare and Community) and Grace Corn (VP-elect for Welfare and Community) all decided not to vote on Motion 111, titled ‘Defending Freedom of Speech’, at the event in Glasgow last month.
The proposal calls for the NUS to ‘lobby for an end to the OfS’ [Office for Students] ‘Free Speech’ duty’ and the abolition of the Prevent – a duty designed to ‘stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism’.
“The OfS’s inclusion on ‘freedom of speech’ is geared towards inhibiting Students’ Unions to create ‘no platform’ policies; this clashes with NUS’s policy on no platforming, and the safety of our liberation group students.
“It is well within our democratic rights to no platform those who incite hate speech,” the motion reads.
It then goes on to add that the Office for Students’ free speech stance is ‘flawed and inconsistent’ with the Government’s Prevent strategy.
“They cannot both champion freedom of speech, and yet persist with the Prevent Duty, which creates a chilling effect on campuses, in which a number of students feel targeted and unable to speak freely and engage in democratic and normal debate, without being reported to Prevent authorities,” it says.
Despite Lincoln’s delegates abstaining from the motion, motion 111 was passed by conference.
Attendees also voted for an amendment to the motion (called UD111A), which requested that the initial motion should be replaced with an affirmation of the conference’s ‘commitment to freedom of speech’.
It also called for Students’ Unions to ‘drop their safe space and no-platform policies’.
Kudzai and Grace abstained from the vote, while Connor and Sophia voted against the amendment.
The news comes after Lincoln SU received a ‘red’ status for freedom of speech by the online magazine Spiked for the third year running, and after the Union temporarily suspended the Conservative Society’s social media last year for sharing last year’s Spiked rating.
Elsewhere, the SU document also revealed that the Lincoln delegates supported all Priority Zone motions, as well as proposals from the Society and Citizenship Zone.
These included votes on child refugees, student finance, student poverty and ending single-use plastics.
Lincoln’s NUS delegates only voted unanimously on two motions, abstaining on a vote on ‘defending freedom of speech’ and voting against a proposal on ‘meaningful mental health campaigns not puppy rooms’.
The Linc has contacted the University of Lincoln’s Students’ Union for comment.
Update: After being contacted by The Linc, Lincoln SU’s NUS delegates gave no further comment on their decision to abstain from the ‘defending free speech’ motion.