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University of Cambridge rejects proposal for being 'respectful' of all points of view | Freedom of expression

Proposals requiring Cambridge University staff and students to be "respectful" of different points of view within the framework of a freedom of expression policy have been rejected by overwhelming majority in a vote of its governing body. ] Instead, the policy will emphasize "tolerance" of differing opinions after an amendment tabled by those concerned about the impact on academic freedom was passed by an overwhelming majority (86.9%). among those who had opposed elements of the new policy, which the actor and writer described as "confusing".

Visitors to the university were also asked to be "respectful" of the opinions and "diverse identities" of others.

It was the object of a vote in recent weeks among members of the Regent House of the institution, its official governing body, which is largely comprised of senior academic and administrative staff.

There are also implications for the issue of "no platforms" as a result of support for three amendments, elements of which emphasize that those invited to speak at the university "should not be prevented from speaking" as long as they remain within the law.

The vote was received by Cambridge Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope, as "a reaffirmation emphatic of freedom of expression in our university ".

He added:" Freedom the word is a right that is at the heart of the university. This statement is a solid defense of that right.

“The university will always be a place where anyone can express controversial or unpopular new ideas and opinions, and where those views can be vigorously challenged. The statement also makes clear that it is unacceptable to censor or disinvite speakers whose opinions are legal but may be considered controversial.

"Rigorous debate is central to the pursuit of academic excellence, and Cambridge University will always be a place where freedom of expression is not only protected, but strongly encouraged."

The new policy says: "In exercising their right to freedom of expression, the university expects its staff, students and visitors to be tolerant of the different opinions of others, in accordance with the core value of freedom of expression of the university.

"The university also expects its staff, students, and visitors to be tolerant of the diverse identities of others, in line with the university's core value of freedom from discrimination."

However, other academics at the university have raised concerns about the changes to the original policy statement, while Cambridge b ranch of the Union of Universities and Colleges has said that neither it nor the amendments are "fit for purpose."

 Priyamvada Gopal, an academic at the University of Cambridge, tweeted about the decision. "src =" "loading =" loading " class = "css-uk6cul" /></div><figcaption
class= Priyamvada Gopal, a Cambridge University academic, tweeted about the decision.

Priyamvada Gopal, a university scholar, tweeted: "There is no 'free speech line' in Cambridge. The university is struggling to follow government orders based on false moral panic, the poor students are trying to make it less draconian, and there's the Freeze Peach brigade trying to stop the right to protest. ”

The controversy has developed in the context of increasingly tense debates on campus and elsewhere about the limits of freedom of expression.

The students of the The University of Cambridge called earlier this year for a Clare College janitor to be suspended from his job after he resigned from the city council in protest of a motion in support of transgender rights.

Opposition to the original free speech policy proposal was spearheaded by several people at the university, including Arif Ahmed, a philosophy professor there.

He told the Times last week: "A lot of people feel as if they are living in an atmosphere where there are witch hunts, a kind of academic verse from Salem in the 17th century or the McCarthy era."

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