Universities are at risk from woke academics… and students should consent to risk of being offended before attending lectures, think-tank report says
- Professor John Marenbon warned intellectual life at universities at risk in report
- He said many ‘aim for the unholy trinity of equality, diversity and inclusiveness’
- It comes amid rise in ‘campus wokery’ that has seen several speakers shunned
Woke academics are putting the intellectual life of universities at risk, a Cambridge don has warned.
Instead of mastering their subjects many now ‘aim for the unholy trinity of equality, diversity and inclusiveness’, said Professor John Marenbon.
The Trinity College fellow’s comments are part of a report by the think tank Politeia in which Oxbridge academics say reform is needed to protect free speech on campus.
They also argue that training on issues such as ‘race awareness’ should be scrapped and that students should consent to the risk of being offended if they wish to attend university.
Professor John Marenbon (pictured), an honorary professor of medieval philosophy, said: ‘The intellectual life of the world’s great universities, in Britain and elsewhere, is under threat, as never before in modern times’
The Trinity College (pictured) fellow’s comments are part of a report by the think tank Politeia in which Oxbridge academics say reform is needed to protect free speech on campus
Professor Marenbon, an honorary professor of medieval philosophy, said: ‘The intellectual life of the world’s great universities, in Britain and elsewhere, is under threat, as never before in modern times.’
Some dangers were external, such as those from governments that see universities ‘as nothing more than training institutions’ at the expense of pure inquiry.
But he added there was also an internal threat that ‘with each year looms larger’.
‘The threat comes from the academics themselves, the very people who should be guardians of the intellectual ideals of the universities,’ said Professor Marenbon.
The report, also written by Arif Ahmed, professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and Nigel Biggar, regius professor emeritus of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford, said universities must be neutral on political questions.
It comes amid a rise in ‘campus wokery’ that has seen several high-profile speakers shunned.
They include former home secretary Amber Rudd, who was disinvited by an Oxford University group over the Windrush scandal.
Meanwhile, Professor Jo Phoenix, who was due to speak at Essex University on trans rights and the prison system in 2019, was later cancelled and blacklisted.
The university apologised after an 18-month inquiry concluded it had failed to uphold free speech.
It is hoped the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill will stamp out repressive culture.
Professor Ahmed suggested that students starting courses could ‘consent to the risk of exposure to “ideas that are legally expressed in ways that they find shocking, disturbing or offensive”‘.
He said: ‘To withdraw consent, you simply withdraw from the university. In this way, signing up for a university education resembles stepping into a boxing ring.’
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