Union row splits University

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OUSU COUNCIL passed an emergency motion condemning the Oxford Union last Friday after its decision to invite Nick Griffin and David Irving to address members.
Both British National Party leader Griffin and controversial historian Irving had originally been invited to debate at an Oxford Union free speech forum on 26 November.
Religious societies including the Oxford University Jewish Society, the Islamic Society and the Aegis Society voted to mandate OUSU President Martin McCluskey to write to Union President Luke Tryl, asking him to cancel the event.
If the Union did not, the motion called for OUSU to work with the National Union of Students and the Union of Jewish Students to oppose the event, and encouraging JCRs to debate the matter.
But Christ Church and Jesus JCRs also passed motions last week, with large majorities supporting the Union’s invitations.
McCluskey warned assembled delegates, “Irving and Griffin pose a threat to the welfare of individual students. There are students in this room now who will support this motion on the basis that they do not want to be harassed or intimidated by these men or any of their followers. There are students in this room whose race, ethnicity or sexuality has been verbally attacked by Irving and Griffin in the past and they do not once again want to be attacked in their own city.”
In an email to all Union members, Tryl criticised OUSU’s attitude to the speakers, emphasising that censorship was counter-productive.
“Stopping these people from speaking only allows them to become free speech martyrs, and from my own experience back in Halifax, which has suffered from race relations in the past, groups like the BNP do well if they look like they’re being censored,” he said. “Unlike OUSU, I think it’s patronising to suggest that Oxford students aren’t intelligent enough to debate these people and I do have great faith in the ability of Oxford students to challenge them.”
Tryl also said that membership fees would not be spent on entertaining speakers, and that the speakers would not be given a platform to discuss their ‘extremist’ views.
David Irving also attacked journalists at The Oxford Student as “mindless idiots” for misrepresenting his views by claiming that he was a Holocaust denier. For over a decade, Irving has publicly stated that he believes the Holocaust did occur.
“People who call me a Holocaust denier are mindless idiots: it shows they have not read my books or writings, and do not intend to,” he said. “They are willing to wound but afraid to strike, the mark of the bully.”
Earlier this week, Griffin claimed that he had been forbidden from speaking at the debating society in a video posted on the Internet.
Responding to Griffin’s claims, Union President Luke Tryl said, “Mr Griffin must be confused, we were considering having him speaking at the forum and this remains the case.”By Mohsin Khan

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