University safe spaces are ‘crazy’ and ‘oxymoronic’ says Oxford Chancellor Lord Patten in a rallying cry for free speech on campus
- Chancellor Lord Patten indicated that he was not a big fan of the ‘safe space’ culture
- He labeled the concept “oxymoronic” and “crazy” in the chat, also labeling the government
The Chancellor of Oxford University dramatically denounced the concept of safe spaces on campus as ‘crazy’ and ‘oxymoronic’.
Lord Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, unleashed a broad face at the idea when he issued a rallying cry for freedom of speech.
He called himself an “old-fashioned liberal” and denounced those who want to use safe spaces for “no-platform” people with unpopular opinions. And he also berated David Cameron and George Osborne for their stance on China during their reigns.
Speaking to the Oxford Student, Lord Patten said: ‘I am an old-fashioned liberal and I believe that freedom of expression and tolerance are one of the most important values in an open society.
Chancellor Lord Patten said in an interview that he was not a big fan of the ‘safe space’ culture
“The one thing you shouldn’t tolerate is intolerance. If universities are not bastions of freedom of expression, who will be? And it means that “no platforming,” a pretty merciless phrase, should be anathema.
‘When people at universities talk intellectually about safe spaces, it’s insane. It’s oxymoronic. That’s not what universities are about.’
He continued, “When I was a student, my moral tutor was a Marxist atheist, and there I was, a Catholic scholarship boy from a moderately right-wing, lower-middle-class family. Did that ruin me? Did that surprise me?
“The truth is that I think one thing you should learn in college is that arguing is not the same as arguing. I hope that what we do in a good university is to give people the intellectual confidence and the ability to discuss tolerantly with people who disagree with them.’
Lord Patten is the Chancellor of Oxford University and has devastated the concept of safe spaces
Lord Patten also discussed how the West had treated China in the 1990s. He was governor of Hong Kong when Britain handed over the territory to China in 1997.
He suggested that the developed world had misunderstood the level of political change in China after the embrace of capitalism. [western] the delusion, fueled by the overconfident idea when the Soviet Union collapsed and China entered the world economy, that this was the end of history.’
And he criticized the Cameron government’s soft stance on China despite evidence of human rights violations, saying, “I think Cameron and Osborne’s golden age in China was bilge. George Osborne, on a visit to China, agrees to leave for Xinjiang just after one of the Uighurs’ intellectual leaders is sentenced to prison.’
Oxford University was contacted for further comment but did not respond at time of publication.
Lord Patten’s thoughts come four months after the university’s outgoing vice-chancellor warned some students to now believe in ‘the right not to be offended’.
Professor Dame Louise Richardson said freedom of speech was “quite robust” at the elite institution.
But there was an “unfortunate” opinion among certain students that they cannot be upset by opposing opinions, she added.
The 64-year-old political scientist’s comments come amid increasing vigils on campuses across the country and efforts to curtail free speech.
Professor Richardson told the Oxford student newspaper Cherwell: ‘In my entrance speech I say to every incoming student that this is a place where you can expect opinions you don’t like, and I urge them to follow the Augustinian precept of ‘audi alteram partem’ — hear the other side.’
She added: ‘I wouldn’t say students are too comfortable, but there is an opinion among some students – not all students – that they have a right not to be offended.
‘I’m sorry. Education is about feeling uncomfortable, being challenged with views you hadn’t considered or encountered before, and having to make up your mind.’