An article in The Sunday Telegraph this weekend raised the news that the University of Sheffield – the very university that expelled former student social worker Felix Ngole – is set to roll out a scheme paying students to challenge wrong thinking.
Expelled for expressing his faith
Felix was removed from his university course in 2016 after he made comments on his personal Facebook account in support of Biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality. Lawyers representing the University of Sheffield argued that any expression of disapproval of same-sex marriage or relations should result in an expulsion; while Felix was entitled to his views, he was not entitled to express them.
Writing for this week’s Sunday Telegraph, Policy’s Exchange’s Head of Education, Iain Mansfield, points out how “authoritarian and sinister” this was. Thankfully, judges in the Court of Appeal realised this, saying that the university was “lacking insight” because it “failed to appreciate that it had taken a stance which did not accord with the HCPC guidance or common sense.”
In other words, the university had failed to comply to its own standards.
New thought-crime initiative
However, it now appears that the university has learnt nothing from Felix’s case, as Iain Mansfield points out:
“this week Sheffield University announced a scheme in which students will be paid £9.34 an hour to challenge other students who commit so-called ‘micro-aggressions’. Under this insidious doctrine, the most innocuous comment can be considered offensive: examples drawn up by Sheffield include asking someone why they are frying a banana (not realising it is a plantain).
“… The track record demonstrated by the Ngole case means that this latest initiative cannot easily be brushed off as a mistake by a middle-manager, but rather is evidence of a deeply rooted institutional intolerance. Given the university’s inflexible hounding of Ngole – expelled after his comments were reported by an anonymous accuser, despite no evidence of discrimination or intention to discriminate – we can only imagine the likely treatment of those reported for thought-crimes by the university’s new network of informants.”
New fitness to practice
The initial judgment from the Court of Appeal sent a resounding message to universities and employers across the land: Christians should be allowed to express their views.
Yet it appears that the University of Sheffield has not understood this ruling. This new initiative is worrying news for any current and future students of the University of Sheffield who hold similar views to Felix.
In the judgment from the Court of Appeal in Felix’s case, the court recommended that a new fitness to practise hearing be convened at the university to decide Felix’s fate. Despite the University of Sheffield’s continued ‘lack of insight’, let’s pray that Felix would still be considered at fit to practise social work.
Author: Rebekah Moffett
Republished by permission of Christian Concern.