Last week Peter Hitchens refused to sign an ‘intrusive’ free-speech contract demanded of him by the University of Liverpool. It turns out that Liverpool is not the only place of learning where students are authorised to police others’ speech.
At King’s College London – which still says that it welcomes staff and students of all faiths and beliefs – its students don’t appear too eager to embrace this one-time liberal tradition of toleration.
The students’ union there could hardly be more authoritarian. Paying ‘safe space marshals’ to go to ‘speaker meetings’ to check that no one voices ‘offensive views’ that might threaten a ‘safe space breach’ – and, what’s more, to take action if this happens – is not exactly embracing of ‘diversity’.
When they are not monitoring Jacob Rees-Mogg – he had three dedicated to tracking his speech for perceived misdemeanours – they are more easy-going, whiling away their time at free yoga and spin classes, no doubt in need of relaxation from their policing tasks.
It’s reported that these new student police, though paid for by King’s College Students’ Union, are actually required under university rules.
Isn’t it time for Jo Johnson to remind the College’s Master that, despite how it might seem to those on the outside, his centre of education is not the Wild West?