Nottingham Students’ Union reverse decision to ban pro-life group after proposed legal action

The Students’ Union (SU) at Nottingham University have reversed a decision to prevent a pro-life group from affiliating to the SU following legal action.

In June, Nottingham Students’ For Life (NSFL) were rejected from becoming an official society, because the pro-life view did not align with that of the SU. NSFL appealed this decision to the Societies Council, but their application was rejected a second time by majority vote at a meeting.

Officers from Nottingham Student’s Union organised a protest against NSFL outside the building where their application was being discussed, holding posters saying “Don’t tell me what to do” and “Get in the bin”.

It was only after the pro-life group contacted lawyers and proposed to bring legal action against Nottingham Student’s Union that the SU reversed it’s decision. In a statement on their Facebook page NSFL said:

The [Student] Union’s decision to affiliate us comes following the threat of legal action to the Students’ Union. [Our lawyers] reminded the Union that their decision to reject us not only went against their own policies but against their legal obligation to not discriminate against us on the grounds of belief.

The group was formed to encourage debate and discussion or pro-life issues and to advocate for pregnant women on campus by ensuring they have options other than abortion available to them.

The pro-life group is describing this as a “victory for freedom of speech”.

Affiliation for student groups with the Students’ Union at a university is important for those groups as it permits them to use university premises for their events and often entitles them to a certain amount of funding. Any student group affiliated with their SU is entitled to these benefits, so preventing a pro-life group from having access to these benefits is clear discrimination.

Censorship of the pro-life view on university campuses is becoming commonplace in the UK with a number of similar instances within the last few years (see here, here and here).

“We have officially been granted the status of an affiliated society with the Union! We are delighted to have received affiliation and are looking forward to being able to promote a culture of life on campus.”

Clare McCarthy from Right To Life UK said:

“This is great news for the pro-life students at Nottingham and the pro-life movement in Britain more generally. The difficulty pro-life groups face in gaining official status in universities has become the norm and Student’s Unions seem very happy to violate their own policies on ‘inclusion’ and ‘equality’ to discriminate against those who take a different view on abortion to them.”

“Universities were once considered the forum in which ideas and opinions were discussed and argued however, more and more we are seeing attempts to censor the pro-life argument from being discussed on campus. This behaviour sets a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech and expression more generally.

Nottingham pro-life student group barred from joining Students’ Union

A pro-life student group at the University of Nottingham have denied affiliation to the Students’ Union on the grounds of their pro-life stance.

In an increasingly long list of instances of discrimination against pro-life groups at British universities, Nottingham Students For Life (NSFL) has found itself unable to be recognised as a society by the Nottingham Student Societies Council on the grounds of the Student’s Union’s own pro-abortion policies.

Being denied recognition as a student society limits what the pro-life group can do on the university campus in terms of; booking rooms for events and being entitled to funding from the university to attend conferences and run events.

Speaking with Right To Life UK, NSFL president, Julia Rynkiewicz informed us that the pro-life group was denied affiliation on the grounds that it conflicted with the Students’ Unions’ support increasing abortion access in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The Student Society Council were also apparently concerned about protecting students from harassment, although the pro-life group made clear that that was not their intention.

The NSFL president explained that the group was formed to encourage debate and discussion or pro-life issues and to advocate for pregnant women on campus by ensuring they have options other than abortion available to them.

Some members of the Student Society Council, who are supposed to assess the fitness of any particular group in becoming a recognised society, are understood to have directly protested against Nottingham Students for Life, raising questions about their impartiality in this regard.

Julia Rynkiewicz, president of NSFL said:

“The Students’ Union are meant to reflect the diversity of our student body. However, in advancing their own extreme abortion agenda and rejecting any sort of pro-life opposition, they are going against their own policies.”

“The fact that the pro-life view is a minority one on campus should not take away our right to exist as a society at the university. We do not hate, harass, judge or condemn anyone. We want every woman to be able to choose life”

Nottingham Students For Life will appeal the decision.