Toughen up you brightest of the bright (allegedly)
Sir Michael Barber, the head of the new student watchdog has vowed to enforce free speech on campuses.
He says that students or academics who prevented discussion or debate out of fear of offending others were on a “slippery slope“. Universities, in his view, “should be places of intellectual and personal “discomfort”. Being comfortable was a step towards being “complacent” or “self-satisfied” whereas he thought more profound learning required discomfort.
The Office for Students will adopt “the widest possible definition of freedom of speech – namely anything within the law” when it begins monitoring campuses in April.
He says he hopes they will never have to intervene (I think they’ll be busy) but if they do “it will be to widen freedom of speech rather than restrict it”
In defence of students he thought this generation “was demonstrably the best educated in history, hard-working, thoughtful, curious and ambitious“. He then added “Then, just occasionally I read or hear something that suggests a potential threat to the freedom of speech that underpins such optimism”.
I think the problem is more widespread than he is prepared to admit. I anticipate some universities will be criticised and fined, if not suspended.
I have posted before about daft campuses.