GUSRC criticises Scottish Government on counter-terrorism consultation
Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council (GUSRC) have issued a statement criticising the lack of transparency as well as the targeted nature of the Scottish Government’s “Prevent” consultation on counter-terrorism guidance.
The statement is extremely critical of the consultation’s focus on Muslims, the Islamic faith and the misplaced focus on students at the University becoming involved in extremist activities. GUSRC’s concerns on the lack of transparency relate to the failure of the Scottish Government to follow their normal consultation process. The guidance was not published on the Scottish Government’s website which is standard procedure for all consultations regardless of their content or area of focus. We believe that the consultation was sent out to selected organisations with no explanations as to why others were excluded.
President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) Ms Breffni O’Connor explained:
“The statutory duty proposed in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill currently being discussed in the UK parliament is extremely worrying for us, as a student-led organisation. We believe that by involving professionals such as academics and university support staff in counter-terror policing there is a risk of creating a culture of mistrust and alienation among students.
We also find the guidance & bill’s focus on Islam and its vague references to “extremist views”, without proper definition, particularly concerning. If the bill and guidance were to be passed in their current form we believe it would be placing at risk of one of the cornerstones of any vibrant academic environment – academic freedom to hold and express opinion; question and test established ideas and received wisdom and present controversial or unpopular points of view. “
In addition GUSRC have a number of reservations as to the manner in which the consultation was publicised and administered. The response period ran between 17th December and 30th January, a traditionally difficult time for student organisations to respond.
Last year, the University of Glasgow students elected Edward Snowden as Rector, a result perceived as overwhelming supporting his stance on mass surveillance which is not just about privacy, but is also about academic freedom and human rights , which we are all equally entitled to without discrimination.
GUSRC will be seeking clarification from the Scottish Government as to why the consultation was not made available to the public and continuing to lobby for amendments to the bill & the guidance which do not infringe on the human liberty of our students.
GUSRC’s consultation response can be viewed here: Prevent Duty Guidance for Scotland consultation response (PDF)