As a university and union we are proud of our commitment to, and record of, challenging any expression of prejudice or discrimination directed against any group or individual (whether in form of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism; attitudes to sexuality, gender or disability). Where any safeguarding or more general duty of care concern is raised that may put a student or other persons at risk of harm, there are established procedures of prompt referral which every member of staff should be aware of and should be able to act on accordingly. In addition:
It is essential that in order to explore views and opinions and where necessary, challenge them, we actively promote a climate of free discussion and debate. There should be no fear that this will incur suspicion, or limit on free expression within the boundaries of our equality and diversity policy and disciplinary codes on harassment or abuse.
It is essential that legitimate political opinions expressed by staff or students are not in any way regarded as ‘extreme’ or legitimising ‘extremism’. In the context of ‘Prevent’, it is perfectly legitimate for example, to criticise government foreign policy; to criticise the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan; to express support for Palestinian rights or to express either support for or opposition to Israeli domestic or foreign polices. Neither is it extreme or illegitimate to hold that the rise of terrorism or hostility to western governments is a direct result of any of these. One may agree or disagree with such views. However, they form part of legitimate discussion and debate; they are widespread in the political and academic sphere and in society at large. They are neither ‘extreme’, nor should they be presented as ‘excusing’ or providing cover for ‘extremism’ or acts of violence or terror.
Finally, the insistence on freedom of expression and free debate, within the boundaries of established policies and codes of behaviour, is paramount. Therefore sufficient time for discussion, debate and respectful exchange of views is essential in any forum in which ‘Prevent’ is discussed or presented. Everyone is entitled to their own political view or opinion but no-one should privilege one view over that of others, or present one political explanation as ‘expert’ or not subject to challenge.
All presenters in ‘Prevent’ forums, whether internal or external, should be made aware of these principles and be expected to abide by them.
University of Leeds UCU resolves to present the above to the Senior Leadership team and at our negotiating forum, as an agreed set of principles by which any discussion or training on Prevent be conducted.