• Date and time: Tuesday 23 February 2016, 6.30pm
  • Location: Bowland auditorium, Berrick Saul building
  • Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

Event details

York Union event

Julie Bindel. BANNED. Milo Yiannopoulos. BANNED. Maryam Namazie. BANNED.

An 'epidemic of campus censorship' is sweeping across the country, according to Spiked magazine. Students are no-platforming individuals who hold 'threatening' views. Student unions are updating their manifestos to enforce strict safe space policies and compulsory trigger warnings for lectures or course material that might cause distress. A conflict has arisen between the right to feel safe and the right to freedom of expression. The battleground is the university campus.

Our own university has seen its rank slip from green to amber in a recent free speech study. A week on from the YUSU election hustings where the issue of free speech was up for discussion, the York Union assembles a special panel to debate this pressing issue under the motion ‘This House Believes Freedom of Expression is Under Threat at British Universities’.

Is suppression a more powerful weapon than debate, in the battle to defeat dangerous ideas? Are some opinions so harmful, so upsetting, that students ought to be prevented from hearing them? Has the concept of free speech been abandoned by precisely those institutions that should act as its champions? Or perhaps student activists are rightly trying to safeguard themselves and their peers from individuals preaching damaging, oppressive doctrines. Book your free tickets now to secure your place to watch another thought-provoking York Union debate.

Speaking for the motion:

Brendan O’Neill — a self-described ‘atheistic libertarian’, Brendan is the editor of Spiked magazine and columnist for The Australian and The Big Issue, having also written for The Spectator, The Guardian, and other publications. He was famously no-platformed from an Oxford Union abortion debate for 'not having a vagina'. 

Haydar Zaki — a researcher specialising in extremism and Programmes Officer for the world’s first counter-extremism organisation, Quilliam, Haydar is also an ardent campaigner for the #Right2Debate.


Abi Wilkinson — writing on topics such as politics, inequality, gender and internet culture, Abi is a freelance journalist who has written for the Mirror Online and International Business Times, among other publications.

Tom Cutterham — an alumnus of St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where he studied Ancient and Modern History, Tom is now a postdoctoral researcher at New College, Oxford. He caused controversy in December with his leader article in the Times Higher Education entitled "Today's students are anything but coddled".


Join the debate before and during the event on Twitter @YorkUnion #FreeSpeechYork.

To cover the expenses of hosting this event, we have a suggested donation of £2 from students and £4 from members of the public. The York Union is a strictly not-for-profit organisation run by a small group of volunteers.

A panel of experts - see details below
Powered by Eventbrite