I launched the Liberal Society at Goldsmiths – a college of the University of London – a year ago after realising there were far more students there with right of centre views than I had previously thought. I had never suspected some people in my classes believed in the same things as I did. These people told me they had never mentioned what they believed in before out of fear of social rejection.
My aim in September 2017 was to provide a broad church student society for anyone right of centre to debate and befriend other like-minded people. I had over 70 students sign up in freshers week. With around 50 active members engaged and term underway we started organising events.
This turned out be extremely difficult thanks to the climate at Goldsmiths – where you essentially need to prove your speaker will not offend anyone. This is at the discretion of the university.
Soon, I started to understand why the members of our student society and others had hidden their beliefs. I was branded a Nazi by people I had once regarded as my friends, and our events were subjected to aggressive protests and heckling.
I hosted an event with a speaker from the Adam Smith Institute, a Westminster think tank, on bias in the Labour market. This event was attended by our thirty of our members and seven people from the Palestinian society and the Feminist Society who branded the talk, our members, and the speaker, racist due to comments made by Adam Smith in the 1700’s.
After the talk, they heckled my members at the pub. I had had to host it there because we couldn’t get a university room. They dubbed me a Nazi and called me out on social media.
Several protestors even went to my lecturers to demand I be prevented from speaking as it violated their safe space. Luckily I was surprised to be defended by some fantastic lecturers who were defenders of free speech. They pointed out that I merely held liberal values.
Sadly, our Liberal Society – formed of people of all backgrounds, genders, faiths and ethnicity – slowly died as young first years students, understandably, did not like being called Nazis and racists.
In essence, Goldsmiths student politics is rotten to the core and the student body is fashionably extremist. This is why I was not shocked by the news today, of student activists tweeting in defence of gulags – even describing the gulags in the tyrannical Soviet Union an example of rehabilitation. That series of tweets is a genuine reflection of the opinions held by that part of the student body engaged in activism.
Why? Goldsmiths Student Union has been run by self declared communists for over 4 years now. It’s a sad and shocking situation but I fear it is also not limited to Goldsmiths. The climate appears to be the same across the University of London.
Our members were merely classical liberals, believing in free movement, free trade and low taxes. It seems that at Goldsmiths those beliefs make you a Nazi.
Craig Worman works in public affairs