Freedom to organise and freedom of expression on campuses

Protesting the suspensions of University of Birmingham activists

Protesting the suspensions of University of Birmingham activists

From the government’s Prevent policy cracking down on Muslim students and radical activists to victimisation of protesters and trade unionists, and from university and college managers keen to present a corporate image free of pesky posters and leaflets to the impact of education’s marketisation on academic freedom, our political freedoms on campus are under threat from many sides.

As well as these external threats, the bureaucratisation of student unions has produced a culture wary of anything that smells of controversy, students getting organised, or left-wing politics. For example, the student union which shut down discussion on free education and quashed independently-organised political debates. And on top of this, some progressives and leftists have attempted to counter bigoted, right-wing and disagreeable politics with bans and no-platform policies stretched far beyond their origins in tactics of physical self-defence against fascist movements.

Against these problems, we believe that freedom to organise, and a commitment to open discussion, are vital for the left. We need them to be able to build our movements and to fight exploitation and oppression. Taking inspiration from the long history of student struggles for freedom of expression and organisation – like the Berkeley Free Speech Movement of the 1960s in California, or the Latin American movements for “university reform” which succeeded in banning the police from campuses – NCAFC is campaigning for political freedom and a culture of open discussion on our campuses.

Read more about what we stand for and why, in these articles: