Statement on campus events
Posted on 07/01/2016
Statement from King's College London regarding events held on campus
Universities create environments in which debate from all sides on issues of political, scientific, moral, ethical and religious significance is possible, and King’s is no exception.
The safety of our students, staff and the general public is paramount to us and we are committed to acting as a responsible organisation.
We have robust procedures in place to check the appropriateness of events and speakers hosted on campus and aim to balance our legal duty to uphold freedom of speech within the law with our duties under the Prevent legislation and wider legal framework.
In advance of the two events held on our campus in autumn 2015, the university and Students’ Union undertook a series of checks and put additional conditions in place, including recording the speeches, to ensure that the events took place within the law. Members of the university senior team, KCLSU’s CEO and safe space marshalls attended both events. We provided details of the assessments made with regard to these events to the Prevent officers at HEFCE and they raised no issues with us.
Not all student society events are debates where you would have a speaker ‘for’ and ‘against’ an argument, however events are open to all students to attend and oppose or challenge views of speakers. Safe space marshalls protect the rights of students to express opposing views.
We have reviewed the footage of these events and while the comments made by some of the speakers were controversial, we strongly reject that they were extremist. There were no expressions of opposition to democracy, rule of law, individual liberty or mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.
Furthermore, at one event Mr Moazzam Begg says explicitly to the audience: “We all want to stop anybody being violent to anybody else whether here or abroad". At the second event, the overall emphasis of the talk was on how un-islamic violence is.
Neither the university, KCLSU nor any of the student groups organising the events in question received money from speakers for attendance at the events, nor did they pay any money to the speakers for attendance.
Update on Friday 8 January 2016
In relation to media coverage referring to events held on our campus, please find below more information.
The two evening events hosted on our campus were organised by the following student groups: 'Students Not Suspects’ was organised with members of the NUS Executive Team (see link here) and KCLSU’s ‘King’s Ethnic Minority Association’; and ‘Is it a crime to care?’ was organised by the student group ‘KCL Students4Syria’. CAGE was not involved in the organisation of either event. There was no CAGE promotion, materials or fundraising at either event.
The quotes selected by the media have been taken out of the full context of the events, which were 1.5 hours long. We do not consider the comments made by the speakers to be inciting hatred or violence and therefore not breaking the law or the provisions of Prevent legislation. Safe space marshalls were present at both events to ensure that students could challenge the views of the speakers and questions were taken from the audience.
We have consulted HEFCE further and they have not given any indication that an inquiry is to take place.