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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Life complains over Fresher Week bias

A pro-life charity sent an official complaint to the Office for Students asking for its intervention following the rejection of its application to have a stall at three university freshers’ fairs.

Life charity’s application was rejected by the student unions at the Universities of Warwick, Manchester and Liverpool. Warwick openly admitted it rejected Life’s application as its Student Union had adopted a pro-choice stance.

At Manchester, the Student Union simply rejected the charity’s application saying it did not think the fair is the correct platform for Life – though ignored Life’s request to explain why the fair isn’t the correct platform.

Finally, Liverpool Guild of Students suggested that Life could not provide confidential, non-judgemental and impartial advice. It also stated it had been even-handed as the Freshers’ fair did not include agencies which provide abortion.

Life’s director of education Anne Scanlan said that the three rejections were further proof of the stifling of its right to freedom of expression on campuses and invited the Office for Students to intervene, as promised by its chairman, Sir Michael Barber, to uphold freedom of speech at the three universities.

Speaking after the dispatch of the letter Ms Scanlan said: “Life has on many occasions been impeded in its right to freedom of expression on university campuses because of the actions of student unions, some of whom have adopted a pro-abortion policy.

“No university should be allowed to discriminate against pro-life students or pro-lifers in general,” Ms Scanlan continued. “For too long, student unions have operated as a law unto themselves. While universities provide lip service to the principle of free speech, on their campuses free speech is often impeded or blatantly violated by student unions.

“When it happens, universities remove themselves from any responsibility for this contradictory state of affairs.

“Last year one university vice-chancellor responded to our complaint by saying it was a matter for the Office for Students. We now call on that office to give weight to its words by taking action to ensure student unions are not impeding freedom of expression and debate on campuses.”

Picture: A general view of The University of Manchester in Manchester. (Peter Byrne/PA).