Past Event

Silent Demonstration: Oppose Prevent at SOAS

17 May 2018, 3:00 pm
SOAS Main Steps

Stand up against the racist and Islamaphobic Prevent agenda! Come to the silent demonstration on Thursday 17th of May outside the Brunei Gallery at 3pm where the SOAS Board of Trustees meeting will be held.

SOAS management, under considerable and sustained pressure from HEFCE (since replaced by the Office for Students), is currently intensifying its implementation of the PREVENT policy.

On Thursday senior management will present a paper to the SOAS Board of Turstees titled the ‘Freedom of Speech’ policy.

This new policy calls on staff and students to self-police by filling out a detailed questionnaire about their potential speakers, which includes such questions as

  • Does the speaker, or the organisation they represent have a controversial profile in the media?
  • Is the event likely to attract a heightened media interest?
  • Is the event likely to attract unusual interest or unusually large numbers?

Effectively allowing right wing media outlets to set the parameters for acceptable debate at SOAS, and limiting our institutions’ long tradition of swimming against the mainstream grain and offering an effective critique of societal received wisdoms.

In addition the policy aims to give the school a worrying range of tools to police and survey events it deems as ‘highly controversial’.

And finally, the proposed policy aims to give the school the necessary tool to implement these shocking changes through disciplinary measures against both staff and students, including elected union officials, effectively criminalising opposition to its implementation.

The fact that these changes are being proposed under the title of ‘Freedom of Speech’ further adds insult to injury.

This policy has not been discussed with Academic Board, the students’ union, nor the relevant trade unions at SOAS, and is now being presented to the Board of Trustees without any prior consultation with the wider SOAS community, despite the obviously controversial nature of its proposals.

We must oppose all attempts to infringe on our right to freedom of expression!