In Brief

Oxford University refuses to remove ‘harmful’ course reading

Professors given go-ahead to include ‘hateful material’ in lessons

The University of Oxford has dismissed a student union motion to ban discriminatory material from its reading lists.

In a statement, the university said that while students might be “confronted with views that some find unsettling, extreme or offensive”, free speech was the “lifeblood of a university”, reports The Times.

The Oxford University Student Union passed a motion last week condemning “hateful material” in mandatory teaching, as university newspaper The Oxford Student reported at the time.

The policy - titled “Protection of Transgender, Non-binary, Disabled, Working Class and Women Students from Hatred in University Contexts” - was put forward by Alex Illsley, co-chair of Oxford’s LGBTQ+ campaign.

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But while students backed the proposed ban, many Oxford academics criticised the motion in scathing posts on social media.

Richard Dawkins, an emeritus fellow at the university, tweeted that the campaigners were “sanctimoniously woke busybodies”, adding that “this juvenile nonsense is not only incredibly foolish, it is pathetically derivative (from America). Glad to say Oxford will have no truck with it.”

Professor Jeff McMahan, an expert in moral philosophy, told the university’s new independent newspaper The Oxford Blue that the SU motion was a “grave mistake”.

“The only way to deal with arguments with conclusions with which one disagrees is to determine why they are wrong and to explain it to others – that is, to refute them by counterargument,” he said.

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