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Student union placed ban on society for challenging censorship

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A student union temporarily banned a university society from social media, after it challenged the university's position on censorship.

Lincoln University's Conservative Society had posted an image online showing that in a recent report, the university was ranked as "very intolerant".

The report, which showed that 9 in 10 universities are now restricting free speech in some way, was published by online magazine Spiked last month.

Raising issues of free speech and democracy

The society's post drew attention to Spiked's Free Speech University Rankings, which ranked universities as either 'red', 'amber' or 'green' depending on how restrictive they were last year.

Lincoln Students' Union had been ranked 'red'.

In response to allegations that the post had brought the university "into disrepute", Lincoln Students' Union temporarily banned the society from using its social media accounts.

The society said that the post was "simply trying to raise the important issues of free speech and democracy."

Following an appeal from the society, this society's access to its social media accounts has been reinstated.

'Intolerant, illiberal and totalitarian'

The decision to ban the society from using social media was met with widespread criticism, with Lincoln MP Karl McCartney saying that the student union officials should be "ashamed".

"This intolerant, illiberal and totalitarian response is akin to something out of the Soviet Union or North Korea rather than a place for learning and debate," he said.

Lincoln is home to original Magna Carta

Mr McCartney continued: "As well as the irony of banning a society for expressing their concern about free speech, the Students' Union 'snowflakes' are so self-obsessed they forget Lincoln is the home to one of the original Magna Cartas, the foundation stone of freedom the world over.

"This lack of self-awareness and willingness to stifle inconvenient truths is an unbecoming trait in anyone, but is particularly pernicious when demonstrated by a Students' Union based at one of the traditional centres of our national democracy.

"I am sure the authorities of the University itself will be embarrassed by this as it does not help the University's reputation for tolerance, debate and learning. They should send a public message to say they disassociate themselves from their Students' Union's actions."

'Shows how bad campus censorship has become'

Ella Whelan, an editor for Spiked and co-ordinator of the Free Speech University Rankings, commented: "Spiked founded the FSUR precisely so that students could use it to pressure campus authorities into repealing censorious practices. That some student groups are not even allowed to publicly criticise their own unions just shows how bad campus censorship has become."

Related Links:
9 in 10 universities are restricting free speech
A student society has been censored for talking about censorship (Spiked)
Student union bans Conservative society from speaking out - because they challenged its position on free speech (Telegraph)