Oxford University college canceled Christian youth camp
A college at the University of Oxford may be unlawfully discriminating against Christians after it canceled an event booking following ‘unfounded complaints’ from students.
Worcester College has apologized for hosting a training camp for Christian Concern young people and canceled another booking after students said it left them ‘distressed’.
The students claimed that attendees of the Wilberforce Academy event were carrying out “aggressive leafleting” and approaching them to discuss gay conversion therapy.
But an independent review has found no evidence for claims by students at the college, which is run by former equality watchdog chief David Isaac.
The college had expressed concern that views expressed at the conference on “reproductive rights” and “conversion therapy”, which “do not align with our values”.
The event is a week-long conference for college students and young professionals that discusses the Christian faith in contemporary culture and the workplace.
The college said it did not accept the findings of the review, which also revealed that university staff could not find a copy of the leaflet. And the Free Speech Union has now warned the college it may unlawfully discriminate against Christians.
A session at last year’s Wilberforce Academy event for young Christians in Oxford is pictured
The FSU has urged Mr Isaac to apologize and reinstate the canceled event in September following an investigation by attorney Michael Stewart, the report reported. The telegraph of the day.
Toby Young, FSU general secretary, said in a letter that “the wholehearted acceptance of claims that the conference harmed students was a grave mistake.”
Worcester College is led by former equalities watchdog chief David Isaac
He added: “The college should have investigated and dealt with the unsubstantiated complaints from students. No higher education institution should apologize for free speech.
“You need not remember that refusing to provide College services because of Christian Concern’s religious beliefs would constitute unlawful discrimination.
“We continue to support Christian Concern and will provide whatever legal and financial assistance we deem appropriate should this matter escalate.”
Worcester College officials did not engage in the investigation but have since agreed to meet with Christian Concern, which is an evangelical pressure group based in London.
A Worcester College spokesman said: “It is disappointing that prior to a meeting between the College and Christian Concern, the contents of the report commissioned by Christian Concern have been made public without our having the opportunity to discuss it with them. .”
Last year Christian Concern’s youth training camp, Wilberforce Academy, was in Oxford
“The college looks forward to a constructive meeting, but wishes to make it clear that it does not accept many of the findings of this report.”
The so-called ‘People’s Republic of Worcester College’ was previously led by Dr Kate Tunstall, who went by the name ‘Red Kate’.
The issue was even raised in Parliament last September following media coverage of Mr Isaac’s apology to students. During a debate on the Government’s Higher Education (Free Speech) Bill, MP Fiona Bruce mentioned the story.
The politician said at the time: ‘Wilberforce Academy has been held at Oxbridge Colleges for 11 years. I actually spoke at one of his conferences; the students who attend the conference are serious young people who seek to learn about current issues. We need to encourage that, not shut it down.
Mr Isaac, who took over as the new provost of Worcester College in July 2021, is said to have ordered an investigation into the camp’s accommodation after receiving a complaint from the president of the student union.
Isaac was the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), during which she issued guidelines to protect “freedom of expression amid growing criticism of the decisions of non-platform”.
Worcester College has apologized to students after hosting Christian Concern boot camp
He was also previously president of the LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall.
Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, has warned the college that it may unlawfully discriminate against Christians
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: ‘The investigation found, as we expected, no evidence that delegates had done anything to justify apologizing, being canceled or be discriminated against for their Christian beliefs.
“Worcester College has capitulated to complaints from a handful of students who appear to have felt ‘offended’ following a debate on some of the most important social issues of our time.
“It is disappointing that such a prestigious university and college is nullifying Christian beliefs, debate and freedom of expression.”
The so-called “People’s Republic of Worcester College” was previously run by Dr Kate Tunstall, an expert in French literature, who went by the name “Red Kate” for her support of the Labor Party and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
As Acting Provost, she was the most prominent figure in a faction of 150 rebellious Oxford scholars threatening to boycott Oriel students over the Cecil Rhodes statue, and once tried to ban the age-old customs of standing for donations and saying thanks before meals. .