As a former Chaplain to the University of Edinburgh who worked in close co-operation with the Students’ Association on student welfare, I recall that we were sometimes critical of university policy.
It was therefore disturbing to read your report (21 October) about funding of Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) being dependent on certain restrictions over public statements. I am aware this policy does not yet require clearance from the university administration prior to press releases, simply that several days’ notice be given by EUSA to Old College.
But I can imagine that within those moratorium days considerable pressure might be put on EUSA’s officers to modify or withdraw their critical comments.
One of the university’s most distinguished graduates, the late Dr Julius Nyerere, when he became Prime Minister of what then was Tanganyika, told the University of Dar-es-Salaam: “Your job is to criticise us in government. We may not like it. We may try to stop it. But you must go on doing it.”
In the 1990s when Dr Nyerere visited the university I reminded him of that. He gave me a very firm look. “Yes,” he said, “this is more important than ever now.”
In these days when there are few independent critics in the press, in parliament and in most parts of public life, many of us believe that universities have this duty to carefully preserve such diminishing values, both on the outside and within their walls.
(Rev Dr) Iain Whyte
Edinburgh University’s new restrictions on its student bodies’ freedom of speech provide more evidence of universities managing their reputations to make money rather than focusing on good teaching and learning.
How disgraceful that they are trying to silence the elected representatives of their students – or clients, as they seem to see them. What can Edinburgh University Students Association’s representatives possibly know that the university has to hide from their students?
After EUSA’s injunction on their own student paper last year, what will come next from one of Scotland’s oldest and proudest universities?
Student University of Glasgow