By a clear majority of 33 for and 267 against, and following a tense debate, the Oxford Union on Thursday evening voted against the motion ‘This House Believes A University Must Be A Safe Space’.
Spectators spoke of long delays leaving the debating chamber, due to the much longer queue to file out the door marked ‘Noes’, in accordance with the Union’s voting rules.
Despite calls from Librarian-Elect Melissa Hinkley, the student leader for the Propostion, that many students would be “afraid and angry” that such a debate was even taking place, as it risked their “identities becoming academic debate”, the floor was won over by the arguments of the Opposition, led by first year PPEist Molly Greenwood.
Katie Hopkins had been due to speak at the debate, but according to a statement from the Union, she was “sent to cover the French election and subsequent reaction”. Replacing her, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell drew rapturous applause as he spoke of “exposing” radicalism and bigotry with free and open debate.
Daily Mail columnist Peter Hitchens said his views on a range of issues, such as marriage, “would offend a great many people”, but claimed that if the possibility of offense were allowed to limit freedom to speak, we would slowly but surely lose “the freedom to think”.