It was announced three weeks ago that infamous journalist and broadcaster Katie Hopkins had been invited on to campus by Debating Society to take part in a debate with students. This was cancelled by the Students’ Union on the grounds of security and logistical concerns.
Despite the reasons cited by the Students’ Union, less than 24 hours later, they announced a referendum on a policy to allow them greater control over who is allowed to speak at a Union venue or at an event organised by an Union affiliated group. This led to fierce debate both on campus and online with both sides being equally passionate in their reasoning. The engagement across the student body was reflected in the turnout for the referendum with 1018 students voting. This is possibly the largest ever turnout in an SU referendum. No matter on which side of the debate you sat that is a positive. Low voter turnout in the 18-22 has been a national issue but engagement in politics on any level is a positive step to improving this.
It is as yet unclear how this policy will be implemented in the Students’ Union policy framework however, this is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the Students’ Union policy, giving them a greater mandate to protect the student body. It is also unclear as to the possible repercussions this policy could lead to on campus, within the Union or in the wider world. Needless to say this fiery debate is far from over.