Freedom spat at Edinburgh University

Edinburgh University has inserted a clause in its contract with Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) requiring notification of any detrimental statement that Eusa is about to publish.

EUSA is funded with a £2.3m annual grant from the University and the clause has been inserted in the condition of grant.  The Scotsman's account of the circumstances is here.

Free speech is, of course, a paramount consideration.  Yet also important is that EUSA is funded by public money.  EUSA, which exists courtesy of such public funds, does not have the unfettered right to use those funds to do and say anything.  I note the clause only requires EUSA to give notice of publishing anything 'detrimental' - and does not prevent the expression of such views.

Postscript 22.10.13:  According to this report, the University have now backed down and dropped the requirement

 

Comments

Mike Shaw said…
Cameron, the whole purpose of EUSA is to be critical of the University. This has been the case since the SRC was established in 1884, and enshrined in parliamentary legislation in 1889. This action by the University management goes against the spirit of this, and presents a very slippery slope for further infringements on EUSA's autonomy and restrictions on its funding. The block grant is provided to provide services including EUSA's professional advice (used by 10,000s of students every year), academic representation, and over 250 student societies. The cost of providing these services is subsidised by student money through EUSA's commercial services. To put these at risk and play politics with them in such a way is grossly incompetent action on the part of University management.
Cameron Rose said…
Mike,

Thanks for engaging. And thanks for calling in to my blog.

I wonder if your first sentence could be a small exaggeration. If not, then, whatever the rationale in 1884, I consider immediate defunding is appropriate :-)

Did you advise the University you were about to publish an accusation that the University management are grossly incompetent? (Smiley no. 2)

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