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14 May 2018

Joint Statement on Freedom of Expression

A joint statement from KCLSU and King's College London on Freedom of Expression


Message from the Principal on Joint Statement of Freedom of Expression

The University and KCLSU care deeply about how we manage freedom of expression at King’s. As a partnership, we share a vision of King’s as an inspiring and open place to learn and are committed to working together to make sure we provide safe platforms for free, peaceful and respectful dialogue. 

The university community hosts thousands of events each year, and both KCLSU and King’s have processes and procedures in place to get the balance right between opportunities for free expression of knowledge and ideas, the right to peacefully protest against them, and for our staff and students to be protected from hate or violence.

Since January, we have been working together to review our processes and procedures to make sure that they are defensible, efficient, transparent, consistent and fit for purpose to support the growing demands of our vibrant community. Recent events where there have been rare examples of things going wrong – and even unacceptable levels of violence – have made this partnership even more important. Following approval through both the Union and university’s structures, we are therefore proud to confirm our shared principles on Freedom of Expression.


King’s and KCLSU Joint Statement on Freedom of Expression

“King’s College London and King’s College London Student Union have a strong commitment to the values of freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and religion and freedom of assembly. The university upholds this commitment through its core strategic priorities: education, research, and service. One of our central guiding principles in the King’s Strategic Vision 2029 is to ‘demonstrate open-mindedness and tolerance and expect to challenge and be challenged in protecting the freedom of expression’. King’s expects its academic and professional services staff, its students and visitors to the university to respect and promote this guiding principle.

“The furtherance of intellectual inquiry necessarily involves ideas that are in dispute, that may cause controversy, that may cause offence and that may provoke a reaction amongst audiences in the university community and beyond. The university is committed to a safe and civil environment for the exchange of ideas and the cultivation of knowledge. Our commitment will at times see the university serve as a place in which intellectual, moral, or political disputes come to the fore. At such times, the university’s role is to ensure that all parties feel confident and safe in expressing their views except when this speech discriminates based on race, class, disability, sex, age, gender identity, transgender status, religion or sexual orientation.

“King’s College London and King’s College London Student Union make this statement conscious of the particular role that universities play in society and of the societal and public obligations that this entails. Nothing in this statement should be read as a deviation from, or contradiction to, the university’s Charter, statutes and regulations, or its obligations under the laws of the United Kingdom, including equalities legislation. The university has in place policies that enforce this statement.”