Student fears after Cambridge’s anti-racist policy is defeated

By Rachelle Arulanantham, May 29, 2008

Fears were raised at Cambridge University that attacks on minority students were now possible after a policy preventing university bodies from giving a platform to “racists and fascists” was defeated. 

The policy, which says that “invitations to racists and fascists are dangerous to the physical and psychological wellbeing of our community”, was passed by the Cambridge University Students’ Union six years ago.

But as the current policy was about to expire, a new, more legally workable version had been proposed, updating a list of six targeted groups including the BNP, the National Front, and Al-Muhajiroun. The new policy was debated at open meetings across Cambridge, with supporters gaining a narrow majority in pledged votes from college representatives. However, after debate at CUSU Council’s May 21 meeting was cut short at 15 minutes, the motion was defeated by 38-29 votes.

Mark Wolfson, former campaigns officer of Cambridge University JSoc and a CUSU executive member, urged Council to renew the policy. He spoke  after the motion’s defeat of his fears “that we will be left with a soulless student union, incapable of its ‘duty of care’ to the welfare of minority students in particular.” Further worries were raised by reports of a BNP stall in central Cambridge on the day after the vote.

Andrew Noakes, a leading member of the “No Platform” campaign, said: “I strongly believe in the policy and care very passionately about protecting the rights of minorities. There is still a lot of debate to be had on the issue.”

Last updated: 3:15pm, March 2 2009