Episode 7: Free speech, ethical investment and beasts on campus

Apr 01, 2020, 07:08 PM

In this gripping instalment two Registrars discuss a diverse range of key issues from controversial speakers ethical investments to reindeer on campus.

Episode 7 in the series of podcasts featuring two university Registrars talking about higher ed stuff. In this instalment Dave Hall of the Open University and Dr Paul Greatrix of the University of Nottingham discuss a diverse range of key issues from controversial speakers to reindeer on campus. Universities are expected and required to be guardians of free speech but we often find we have speakers whose views we might not like and many might find upsetting and in ensuring we meet our legal obligations we can end up annoying almost everyone. Universities have to bend over backwards to accommodate speakers and yet are regularly berated by politicians and the media for not doing this despite the absence of evidence. There remains therefore the possibility of further legislation but this is fraught with difficulty and it does seem that, against the odds perhaps, the existing laws do actually work. 

Looking at the issue of ethical investments, this is noted as another area where student protest has, over time, really shifted the debate and led to fossil fuel divestment although there remain different views about research collaboration with the same companies on environmentally beneficial projects.

Finally there is the salutary example of protests about the presence of visiting reindeer on campus being used to support a charity promoting environmental work which leads inevitably into an exploration of the value of puppy rooms, the possible impact of emotional support animals and the surprising popularity of Canada geese, despite their unpleasant deposits.