In the wake of the No Offence scandal surrounding this year’s freshers’ fair, OUSU is set to clamp down on the broader student press – imposing from 0th Week a new set of regulations upon any Oxford-produced content which has an audience including marginalised groups. Such groups include BME students, the LGBTQIA+ community, people of colour, differently abled people, vegetarians, those with mental health problems, and women.
Before being approved for distribution, publications must be vetted by an OUSU committee called the General Limiting And Vetting Internal Tribunal, or ‘Glavit’. The committee will consist of self-appointed Community Leaders, who will be accountable to the student electorate via decennial opinion polling.
Should any publication breach this rule, and issue unchecked work in digital, print, or spoken format, its propagators and editors will now be liable for community service. This will take the form of monitoring self-care sessions, which are to be set up across colleges for those affected by the expression of adverse opinions (both in Oxford and society at large).
Correspondingly, an appointed subcommittee of Glavit is the Committee Holding Internet Narratives to Account, or China. Given the damagingly patriarchal nature of many pornographic videos streamed by large numbers of the student body, China’s portfolio will consist of vetting the quality of said videos. This will be done with the aim of shielding students from unhealthy body images, and narratives which could negatively impact their sense of self-worth. China have also created a blacklist of sites which will now be unaccessible on University wifi, including Spiked! Online, The Spectator, and Germaine Greer’s personal blog.
Problematic content is not just found online, however. OUSU have created the beginnings of a ground force, made up of those who – VERSA can exclusively reveal – first swear an oath to the President, then vow to prove their loyalty by shutting down at least two triggering ‘debates’ in their respective colleges.
This force, which any student is eligible to join, is to be known as the Students Taking Action to Save Intersectionality, or Stasi. In addition to the aforementioned duties, the Stasi will be responsible for checking the privilege of their fellow students and maintaining comprehensive privilege/oppression rankings within OUSU itself. Even if not a member themselves, anyone who reports another student to the Stasi will be rewarded (with, it is believed, a free lifelong subscription to The Guardian).
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In response to critics – who have called the new measures a variety of terms ranging from ‘excessive’ to ‘fucking ridiculous’ – a spokesperson from OUSU replied: “The so-called Free Speech Brigade has a vested interest in promoting rape culture, owing to the fact that at least half of its members are male-identified. This is a disgrace. Also, your expletive-filled language will not be tolerated under the new regulations. Fuck white gays.”
As it happens, VERSA has obtained a private copy of swearwords deemed acceptable by Glavit; we reassure our readers that ‘shitlord’, ‘fuckbadger’, and ‘pissweasel’ are all marked non-anti-intersectional.
These new regulations will come as a shock to many, but in a rare moment of agreement with OUSU, VERSA has moved to commend them wholeheartedly. Certainly, they may shock us – but that is nothing to how shocked a bisexual person or woman might be when confronted with problematic content.
To oppose these regulations is to side with the oppressors. It is to maintain that a random abstract value like “freedom of speech” is worth more than the lived experience of people of colour, and vegetarians.
Despite VERSA’s otherwise ‘liberal’ credentials, the above is an attitude we cannot support. In fact such ‘freedom’ is, in the end, a kind of slavery – because it is only ignorance of triggering material that nurtures and develops strength. The war on hatred and bigotry must be identified with peace: the peace-of-mind of the vulnerable. And if someone declares to us that, for instance, 2+2=5, the correct answer is not disagreement, but acknowledgement. We must acknowledge that, for the differently-abled – and those fortunate enough to have a diverse, non-Western approach to mathematics – this is their truth.
We wholeheartedly endorse OUSU’s defence of the intellectually underprivileged.