OUSU has banned ‘No Offence’ magazine from distributing its materials at this year’s Fresher’s fair after deeming it’s views “offensive”.
OUSU released a statement, explaining, “The editor-in-chief of ‘No Offence’, Jacob Williams, asked Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) to review his magazine for distribution at OUSU’s Freshers’ Fair. The magazine included a graphic description of an abortion, the use of an ableist slur, a celebration of colonialism, and a transphobic article. In an attempt at satire, another article suggested organising a ‘rape swagger’ – in the style of a ‘slut walk’ – in order to make rape ‘socially acceptable.’
“OUSU do not want to be associated with the views in this magazine, therefore do not want it to be distributed at our event. The offensive views exhibited in this magazine do not in any way represent the majority of Oxford students, or OUSU.”
OUSU did however emphasise that the editors “are, of course, completely free to publish the document online, in the exact form in which it was sent to us” to enable students to read it if they wish.
Becky Howe, OUSU President, explained to Cherwell that, “We have told ‘No Offence’ they cannot distribute their material at an OUSU event, but have not in any sense ‘banned’ it on a wider scale. Open Oxford will still have a stall at Freshers’ Fair. Given they want their messages to reach as many students as possible, we assume the editors will publish ‘No Offence’ online imminently, in the form in which they sent it to us.”
Under ‘Regulation 13’, OUSU is entitled to remove any material at any time from any stall.
The new magazine, founded by Jacob Williams and Lulie Tanett, was formed to “promote debate and publicise ideas people are afraid to express”. According to its Facebook page, ” ‘No Offence’ is a new Oxford-based magazine devoted to controversy, contention, and all things freeze peach. We aim to broaden the spectrum of opinion at Oxford, and create a climate where people are more comfortable expressing ideas some see as offensive. Our purpose is to publicise ideas and arguments that people otherwise may never encounter.
Jacob Williams told Cherwell, “When our students’ union can restrict publications that express views they deem offensive, there is no hope of Oxford ever having a climate of free expression. You can have safe spaces if you want but the university must always be safe for the exchange of ideas.
“NO is a magazine devoted to publicising viewpoints people are usually afraid to discuss, to try to widen the terms of debate at Oxford.
“We will indeed be publishing online but we can’t reveal all of our distribution plans just yet.”