University of Strathclyde’s Students’ Association bans pro-life groups


By Jennifer Constable, Editor-in-Chief (@Peculiar_Jenny)

Strathclyde’s Students’ Union has prohibited pro-life societies on the grounds that they violate students’ safe spaces.

Pro-life advocates have been banned from establishing a society within the Union, after a meeting of the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA) deemed that “Anti-choice groups actively use intimidation and fear tactics to harass people entering abortion clinics.

“The establishment of anti-choice groups would directly contravene equal opportunities policy by giving them a platform to harass students. This in turn violates their safe space.

“Allowing an anti-choice group to form would be a barrier to freedom, equality and body autonomy for those with uteruses on campus therefore not only violate existing standing policy, but also act against the interests of a large amount of the student population.”

This ruling means that pro-life supporters will not be able to receive funding from the university for promotional events or excursions.

Simran Kaur, Vice President Diversity at the USSA, claimed “The decision to not allow anti choice societies to affiliate to the union was made via our democratic processes.

“It was made with the safety and wellbeing of everyone who would be affected by a movement to limit access to abortion in mind, and pro life students were invited to contribute to the debate, but the outcome of the vote meant that the motion has passed into union policy.

However, the students are able to bring about a referendum to overturn this policy if they so choose. The University of Strathclyde Students Association is a pro choice organisation and has been for a number of years.”

The decision has been met with fears over the restriction of freedom of speech, with pro-life supporters arguing that the move infringes on their right to free speech under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Pro-life Strathclyde student, Jamie McGowan, said, “It is deplorable that a modern university is incapable of facilitating debate on societal or medical issue such as abortion.

“Ironically, they will happily take positions on politics, but refuse to allow political debate and we feel this policy is a violation of freedom of speech.”

The pro-life group were already angered, having previously tried to obtain funding from the University, but were told they needed to first affiliate with the students’ association.

Fellow student, Chloe Lindsey, also raised concerns, saying  “The suppression of freedom of speech has no place in a university which claims to be liberal and forward-thinking.”

This conflict has emerged at a time where concerns have already been leveled that universities’ political correctness are impeding on free speech.

Oxford University, in 2014, was made to cancel an abortion debate, following complaints from female students over the all-male panel.

Cardiff University students put pressure on to ban well-known feminist, Germaine Greer from giving a lecture, after her comments that a man who was castrated would not behave like a woman, as this was seen to be offensive to transsexuals.

However, the decision to ban pro-life groups at Strathclyde has been defended by Raj Jayaraj, President of the USSA, who said “If a society’s beliefs contradict association policy then it is not allowed to affiliate. If a society representing the BNP came on campus then we would not allow them to affiliate.”} else {