NUS No Platform Policy

No Platform is a policy of the National Union of Students (NUS) of the United Kingdom. Like other no platform policies, it asserts that no proscribed person or organisation should be given a platform to speak, nor should a union officer share a platform with them. The policy traditionally applies to entities that the NUS considers racist or fascist, most notably the British National Party,[1] although the NUS and its liberation campaigns have policies refusing platforms to other people or organisations. Similar policies have also been adopted by its constituent unions.

How the policy works

The No Platform policy, as defined in the NUS's articles of association provide that no "individuals or members of organisations or groups identified by the Democratic Procedures Committee as holding racist or fascist views" may stand for election to any NUS position, or attend or speak at any NUS function or conference. Furthermore, officers, committee members, or trustees may not share a platform with any racist or fascist.[2] The list of proscribed organisations, as of May 2012, includes the following organisations:[3]

The NUS also has policy refusing platforms to people or organisations for other reasons: the NUS LGBT Campaign (and formerly, also the Women's Campaign) refuses platforms to those they condiser to be transphobic, including Julie Bindel;[4] and the National Executive Committee has policy refusing a platform to those it considers to be rape deniers or rape apologists, in light of George Galloway MP's statements on the allegations of sexual assault facing Julian Assange.[5]

Opposition to the policy

The policy sometimes attracts criticism from people who consider it to be censorious; students unions in Durham, Leicester, Newcastle, and Salford have all had attempts to overturn No Platform policies.[6] In 2007, debate surfaced in the University of Oxford about the policy when British National Party leader Nick Griffin was scheduled to appear on the University's student radio station, Oxide Radio - at that time, the station did not have editorial independence from its parent company, OSSL, the commercial subsidiary of the Student Union. OUSU backed the NUS decision, but in 2007 the Oxford Union invited Nick Griffin along with British writer and Holocaust denier David Irving to speak. Members of the Student Union picketed the debate and some protesters broke into the Union chambers before being ejected by security.[7] Subsequently, Oxide Radio was granted editorial independence from OUSU.

In February 2010, the NUS was heavily criticised after two of its officers forced a proposed debate on multiculturalism at the University of Durham to be cancelled.[8] The debate, organised by Durham Union Society, was to have featured two prominent British National Party members: Andrew Brons MEP and Leeds City Councillor Chris Beverley.[9] Upon hearing of BNP involvement in the debate, NUS Black Students' Officer Bellavia Ribeiro-Addy and NUS LGBT Officer Daf Adley jointly sent a letter to both Durham Union Society and the university demanding its cancellation. The pair incorrectly stated that the debate would be illegal and threatened to organise a "colossal demonstration" in tandem with Unite Against Fascism, adding that "if any students are hurt in and around this event responsibility will lie with you".[10] The subsequent cancellation of the debate by Durham Union Society President Anna Birley on safety grounds was met with fierce backlash. NUS President Wes Streeting was prompted to personally appear before Durham Union Society to apologise for the actions of the officers concerned, though outrage among Durham students was sufficient that a significant number protested outside the debating chamber at the time.[11] A further protest group on Facebook quickly amassed over 2,500 members. An official petition was soon lodged with Durham Students Union to call for a referendum on disaffiliation from NUS.[12] On 12 March 2010, the referendum concluded with a majority of voting students having voted to disaffiliate.[13]


External links

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