We survey British universities, examining the policies and actions of universities and students’ unions, and rank them using our traffic-light system.
Traffic-light ranking system:
has banned and actively censored ideas on campus
has chilled free speech through intervention
has a hands-off approach to free speech
The University of Bristol and the University of Bristol Union collectively create a hostile environment for free speech. The university, which has maintained its Amber ranking, places restrictions on ‘provocative’ and ‘offensive’ speech. The students’ union, which has maintained its Red ranking, bans misogynistic, ‘unwelcoming’ and ‘judgemental’ speech, and has banned Charlie Hebdo and a ‘chav-themed’ society social. The institution’s overall ranking remains Red.
The university - AMBER
Dealing with Unacceptable Behaviour
Definition of bullying and harassment includes ‘innuendo on sexual orientation’, ‘inappropriate initiation ceremonies’ and ‘experiencing behaviour by a fellow student that upsets you or causes you offence'.
Freedom of Speech Policy
‘The university believes that an atmosphere of free and open discussion is essential to its life and work. Such an atmosphere can be achieved only if all concerned behave with necessary tolerance and avoid needlessly offensive or provocative action and language.’
The students’ union - RED
Ending Rape Culture at the University of Bristol
The policy resolves to ‘challenge rape culture’, to ‘replace songs that have lyrics that reinforce rape culture with their instrumental version or an appropriate parody version at union events and in union buildings’, and maintain ‘a list of songs deemed to be in this category’. It also reserves the right of the student council to ‘disaffiliate an affiliated society if that society, or an organisation affiliated with, or with proven links to that society, commits rape apology and the society fails to apologise or rectify the situation to the satisfaction of the society’s executive’.
Safe Space Policy
‘Each and every member should feel welcome to participate in empowering, non-judgemental and non-threatening discussions, activities, services or events. Members should be free from fear of threats, intimidation, harassment and the deliberate, or negligent, creation of unsafe or unwelcoming conditions.’
Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment
Defines sexual harassment as including ‘wolf-whistling, derogatory comments’.
‘All undergraduate students living in university accommodation will have the opportunity to attend a [consent] workshop, and we expect you to do so as part of your formal induction.’
Due to the specific nature of this policy, it has been weighted as an Red Action.