'No Platform' Update

President Jack O'Neill tells you more about your opportunity to debate, discuss and decide as we prepare for the upcoming referendum on whether the Students' Union should implement a 'No Platform' policy.

Last Friday, we announced that there would be a student vote on a ‘no platform’ policy.

The reasons for this are simple: over the past couple of weeks we've witnessed a tremendous amount of debate on freedom of speech, no platforming and what views should be allowed on our campus.

The simple fact of the matter is that currently, we do not have any policy on this and no democratic legitimacy or direction on what all students at Royal Holloway believe on these matters.

This will be your opportunity to debate, discuss and decide.

How will you debate?

When a student vote is called, it is natural for a group of students to gravitate and organise around varying sides of the argument. It is important to recognise that there will be some students who clearly know what outcome they want to campaign for, but there will also be students that want to know more information and hear both sides of the debate before making a decision.

For this reason, we will be hosting a Students’ Union run event on Friday 1 November. This will be the opportunity for both sides of the debate to discuss their viewpoints and for other students to listen and ask questions. More details on this will be circulated in due course.

What will you discuss?

It doesn’t take a genius to say that this debate will form into a “yes, there should be such a policy” and a “no, there shouldn’t be such a policy.” Discussions will likely range from freedom of expression to harm principles associated with freedom of speech and from defining hate speech to students’ rights. Throughout this period, there will likely be varying jargon thrown around and used interchangeably; we shall endeavour to make this as easy to understand as possible.

When will you decide?

Voting will take place between Wednesday 6 November and Friday 8 November. This is so that there is adequate enough time for students to debate and discuss, and then come to a decision. Voting will be completed via our website and clear instructions will be circulated for this.

Why are we doing this?

It has been evident that this is an issue that people both care about greatly, and also an issue that people are going to disagree on. As a Students’ Union, we are guided by students and what students want to achieve at this university. It is my objective throughout this referendum to get as many students involved in this discussion as possible; I shall not be taking any side in the debate but will be facilitating the discussions taking place.

Finally, I would like to once again reiterate that whilst this is an issue that people may not see eye to eye on, please disagree and discuss respectfully. It is difficult to ignore national politics at the moment, and wherever you sit on the political spectrum, it is largely acknowledged that the manner in which debate is occurring does not represent the best of us.

Whilst this issue has different views, there is no reason for this issue to be divisive. Talk with one another respectfully, be open-minded to other people’s thoughts and, ultimately, it will be you as a collective student body that will be determining what stance we should take on this.

Jack O'Neill // President