April 1, 2022

#BelfastBattleFest: Snowflakes Or Revolutionaries? Free Speech On Campus

This is a recording from the Belfast Battle of Ideas, an event that took place in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast on the 26 March 2022 in partnership with Imagine! Belfast Festival and the Academy of Ideas.

Snowflakes Or Revolutionaries? Free Speech On Campus

From decolonising the curriculum to gender-identity codes of conduct, free-speech controversies are a frequent feature of campus life. But while students are often lampooned as ‘over-sensitive’ or ‘snowflakes’, many believe that these students should be viewed as a radical generation of changemakers, whether championing LGBT rights or promoting racial equality. With the UK government’s new Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill aiming to ensure that universities are ‘bastions of free thought and intellectual debate’, some say student concerns are being ignored and their social-justice priorities undermined. How should students view free speech? Is there a risk of creating an ‘anything goes’ campus culture that prolongs the toxic culture wars? Do such state diktats on free speech offend against the very spirit of freedom they seek to protect? How can students and universities create an atmosphere of open, critical enquiry that benefits all?

- Suzanne Whitten, lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast; author, A Republican Theory of Free Speech: Critical Civility
- Ryan Hoey, politics graduate; former events officer, The Literific, Queen’s University Belfast
- Inaya Folarin Iman, GB News journalist; founder, The Equiano Project

CHAIR: Ella Whelan, co-convenor, Battle of Ideas festival; journalist; author, What Women Want

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