Tensions rise around University of Exeter anti-abortion society


A peaceful sit-in protest is due to take place at the University of Exeter next week in an attempt to persuade the Exeter Student Guild to disband and stop funding an anti-abortion society.

It follows a petition launched last week opposing the existence of Exeter Students for Life which campaigns against abortion, and declares that it “promotes the dignity of human life and fights for its protection”.

It has since been signed by thousands of people, however, Guild says it supports free speech and will investigate any alleged violation of the set of values ​​and code of conduct its companies must uphold.

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Exeter Students for Life says death threats have since been made against members and called on the university to take immediate action.

The protest is organized by members of Sit Down n Shut Up, a movement that started at the University of Exeter. He describes himself as representing marginalized voices and creating initiatives to bring about real and positive change.

Protesters outside Exeter University in 2019

In a previous post shared on Instagram, the organizers said, “We’re as angry as you are with this Exeter Student Guild-approved and funded anti-abortion society, and we’re going to do something about it.

“Right now, we want to print 1,000 stickers to distribute at the forum as a subtle form of protest, as well as to raise awareness and build solidarity.”

The group has now shared details of their latest protest. This Wednesday, October 13, at 1 p.m., students are invited to participate in a peaceful demonstration.

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Organizers said, “This will be another protest sit-in. The last time you were all amazing, so we wanted to do a similar style again – except that the social distancing rules aren’t as strict this time around.

“If there are ‘pro-lifers’ at the event, please ignore them.

“We are protesting the student guild’s affiliation with the company – not the people who make it up. This is really important because we don’t want our message to be distorted.”

A society that has yet to be approved called the Exeter Pro-Choice Society has been formed and recently shared photos of students demonstrating with signs.

The Guild has not announced any plan to prevent the company from functioning.

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A spokesperson for the University of Exeter Student Guild said last week: “We recognize that this is a touching subject for a large part of our community and we can understand that it is is something that people have different views on and feel strongly about.

“We support freedom of expression. We want to foster an environment where our members can participate fully, feel able to question and challenge, express new ideas, discuss controversial and / or unpopular views in within the framework of the law – all without fear of intolerance or discrimination.

“We are committed to the principle that debate and deliberation should not be suppressed, and we encourage and support our members to engage, within the law, in a constructive and responsible manner to challenge any idea to which they oppose openly and vigorously. “

The company also spoke about the reaction it is currently receiving.

Alireza-Ghazi Torbati, president of Exeter University Students For Life, said last week: “As a society, we defend and take a stand for the rights of unborn children, 200,000 of whom lose their lives because of the abortion every year. in this country.

“We aim to equip pro-life students to defend the pro-life position and to provide a space to discuss the issue with respect and sensitivity.

“We also aim to support future parents of students, as well as those who may be suffering from post-abortion trauma.

“The UK has traditionally been a bastion of free speech, but in recent years this has eroded and the trend has been reflected in over 100 of our universities.

“Pro-life groups in particular have been targeted and subjected to censorship attempts for valid beliefs held by many people around the world. Our student group should have the same rights as all other student groups on campus, without discrimination or harassment.

“The death threats made against members of our society are totally unacceptable and deeply disturbing. We contacted the university. We would like her to take immediate action on this.

“The University of Exeter has to be a market for free thought, which is what universities are designed to do. As George Orwell said: “If freedom means anything, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” “

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