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The New Dark Ages: Growing Censorship At 95% Of UK Universities

Greg Hurst, The Times

A new analysis shows that censorship has steadily increased at universities, with 94 per cent of campuses having some restrictions on freedom of expression, up from 90 per cent last year and 80 per cent in 2015.


Village People outfits, vicars and tarts parties, dressing up like chavs, gangsters or Mexicans and even Pocahontas outfits have been banned as offensive by some student unions.

Undergraduates may be disciplined at other universities if they put up posters showing a woman’s bottom or cleavage, wolf-whistle or make “offensive sexual noises” or fail to address a transgender student by their preferred name or correct gender pronoun.

Moves by student unions to control what undergraduates may and may not wear are among the latest examples of a growing climate of intolerance on campuses highlighted in a university free speech ranking compiled by the radical online magazine Spiked.

It found nine instances of campus bans on fancy dress costumes, 21 bans on visiting speakers, 16 bans on student societies, 17 bans on advertisements and 21 bans on tabloid newspapers in the past three years.


More widespread were restrictive policies adopted by student unions, and in some cases universities, with 44 per cent of campuses having no-platform policies that impose a blanket ban on fascist, racist or Islamist speakers and 24 per cent having safe space policies that censor free speech.

Spiked, which has compiled similar rankings for three years, said that 94 per cent of campuses had some restrictions on expression (such as harassment policies that forbid sexist jokes), with 63.5 per cent having active instances of censorship (such as bans on particular speakers or tabloid newspapers).

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