Watch: The role of Universities in supporting freedom of speech

The founder of our project, Anjum Rahman, participated in a panel discussion on the role of Universities in supporting freedom of speech at Victoria’s Kelburn campus on Tuesday, March 28th. This event contributes to the growing, often controversial discourse on free speech set within the context of universities.

Free speech is crucial in fighting against oppressive power structures, though it can also be used by dominant groups to repress minority voices. For example, online harm is a real barrier to belonging and inclusion in Aotearoa, and the dehumanisation, discrimination and silencing that happens online is often done under the banner of ‘free speech’.

In a recent piece for The Post, Anjum wrote:

Speech expresses thoughts and ideas that should challenge our thinking and assumptions, opening us to new ways of doing things and connecting with each other.
Speech can also be a weapon to silence, promote harm and incite violence, to defame and harm reputations, and to create an atmosphere that makes it acceptable to discriminate against groups of people, excluding them from employment, housing, adequate health care, and even an education.

Understanding context is key for approaching free speech arguments, as looking deeper into the context brings light to the power dynamics at play. Whose voices are being drowned out, and what is the historical context? What forces of colonialism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, or other dominant modes of discrimination might be at play?


Building a more inclusive Aotearoa begins with questions such as these.