By Oliver Price – News Manager
The University of Hertfordshire’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Quintin McKellar, in his annual speech, criticised the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, saying that ‘political correctness leapt too far’.
Professor McKellar also disparaged students across the country, for their lack of commitment to free speech.
“For many of us brought up in the cradle of democracy, freedom of speech is simply a given. However, you may be interested to know that one in four students think that UKIP should be banned from speaking at university events. But then three percent think the Labour Party should be banned, and six per cent would ban the Conservatives!”
He later went on to quote Benjamin Franklin, saying that ‘those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety’.
After talking about a ‘blind eye’ being turned in regards to the Rotherham child abuse cases, McKellar said the following:
“Society must learn to engage with one another without unnecessarily causing or taking offence.”
Elaborating on this point in an interview with Trident Media, McKellar said: “We have to be sensitive. I’m not for a minute suggesting that we shouldn’t obey the rules of etiquette.
“All I’m saying is that we definitely should avoid avoiding subjects simply because they invoke, in one way or another, political sensitivity.
“Over the years the change in attitudes towards migrants has been fantastic; genuinely transformative… particularly in places like London.
“All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t become so precious with regards to political sensitivities that we don’t enter into debate on difficult subjects. It’s a difficult line because some people will take offence no matter what you say, and others are fine no matter what you say.”
The Vice-Chancellor also said that in cases of racial discrimination, the European Court of Justice has reversed a pillar of British belief as those accused are now: “Guilty until proven innocent.”
During his speech, Professor McKellar also championed diversity, saying that is was “hugely important for our economy, for our culture and heritage and for our outlook as a tolerant nation integrated internationally with an interconnected and increasingly mobile world.”
The full text of the Vice Chancellor’s speech, along with references, can be found here.