NUI Galway Literary and Debating Society: Stop Censoring Free Speech

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“We, the undersigned, condemn the recent decision taken by the Literary and Debating Society of NUI Galway to restrict free speech in the debating chamber. We call on the committee of the Literary and Debating Society to rescind this restriction and uphold the democratic right of all students to freedom of speech without censorship.”

This semester (September 2017) at NUI Galway, the Literary and Debating Society, the university's oldest and most prestigious student organisation, introduced restrictions on free speech for the first time. It is now official policy that, during a debate, if you say anything that might be seen as offensive to anyone inside the room or outside, you will be shut down, and possibly asked to leave.

Exact statement from Auditor Mark Graydon at the Literary and Debating Society's first debate of the academic year, Sept 14th 2017:

"If you proceed to attack others or say anything that might be construed as offensive to someone within the chamber or without, then I will give you one warning, before asking you that, if you continue that behaviour, that you will be asked to leave the chamber"

This is an assault on free speech, coming from an institution which supposedly exists to defend free speech. It sets a dangerous precedent of intolerance, and it must be opposed.

My name is Josiah Burke. I am a final year commerce student at NUI Galway specialising in economics. I have set up this petition to put pressure on the Society to rescind this policy, respect the democratic freedoms of all students, and stop censoring Free Speech.

Tyranny never appears overnight – instead it gradually chips away at our freedoms, and too often we don’t notice until it’s too late. If you place any value on the freedoms of democracy that you enjoy, I’m asking you to sign this petition.

- Josiah Burke



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