LSE ranks in joint 6th with Manchester Metropolitan and Aston University with 5 events in a report conducted by The Henry Jackson Society comparing the number of ‘extreme’ speakers that UK universities hosted. SOAS leads with 43 events in the 2017/18 academic year. Since 2015 however, the LSE ranks 13th out of 78 universities recorded.
The report focuses on events or speakers that have been linked to Islamist or Salafist networks in the UK. However, all of the LSE events referenced in the report were organised by LSESU student societies – not by the LSE events team or by LSE departments.
Other than through student societies, events at the LSE are organised in a multitude of ways, ranging from academics having useful contacts, to publishers approaching the school if there is a recent book by their author which may be of interest to a wider audience.
The LSE strongly upholds their Code of Practice on Free Speech at events. Under LSE’s Code of Practice on Free Speech, events that are open to the general public are always chaired by someone who is familiar to the school, and whose primary duty “is to uphold freedom of speech within the law”.
As an LSE spokesperson has said:
“LSE acts as a host for hundreds of public events each year featuring a range of speakers and topics chosen by academic units within the school. This freedom for academics to study the major issues facing society, reach their own conclusions, and engage in public debate, is essential for the health of our universities and for the UK’s world-leading research base”.
It goes without saying that LSE events do not lack in quality or professionalism and have hosted speakers from a wide scope of academic backgrounds and fields. BA History Student Jackie Sands displayed her appreciation for “the variety of topics covered and especially the variety of views presented”.