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The New Student Right
Friday 19th August 2016

Haters to the left: Milo Yiannopoulos speaking at the YBHS launch (©YBHS)
The Young British Heritage Society sounds like something to do with insurance, or perhaps an abandoned building south of the river. In reality, it is a student organisation intended to rival NUS (the National Union of Students), and claiming to provide a network for young libertarians and conservatives left in the cold by the red tribalism embedded in British universities. I found myself at their launch event on August 16, headlined by the "undeniably charismatic" (this point conceded by my sceptical female companion) Milo Yiannopoulos, simultaneously curious and unsure what to expect.

To elaborate, while the hard Left has always been strong in universities (Socialist Workers Party posters littered my campus seven years ago), it has now become the establishment. The academics are no better than the students. One English Literature student I spoke to at the YHBS event recounted how she had been set an essay entitled: "Show proof of Shakespeare's racism and misogyny." She asked if she could offer an alternative point of view on Shakespeare's views, in more of a discussion format, but was refused. She ultimately conformed to her professor's wishes. This dogmatic and limited approach to education is far-reaching. A uniformity of ideas has created hypersensitivity among students to language and opinion, throughout America and also in Britain; and led to a stifling atmosphere where voices are restricted — all encouraged and supported by professors and the NUS. We now have "safe spaces", where if an opinion "triggers" (upsets) someone, that opinion is removed. Originally intended to target bullies, it has devolved into a method of silencing speech.

The YBHS was proposed to counter all this. The first thing to strike me was I'd never experienced a "conservative" event so upbeat, diverse, and numerous in its clientele. Such was demand that the organisers relocated to a larger venue, and high turnout led to a long delay in starting. Most curiously, the attendees were distinctly normal. I should add a caveat that, in my experience, students who openly express right of centre views fall under the "outcast" spectrum in many cases. By taking such positions they often isolate themselves socially — there are many exceptions, but this is certainly a trend.

While mostly male, the number of women and minorities, and the class fluidity, was striking. The YBHS chairman, Danial Mirza, is a Muslim. A young black student was so enthusiastic he left his seat and approached the stage in an effort to be noticed during open questions. People were excited, jovial, and relaxed: a boy in front of me advertised his public gaming channel on the back of his shirt. Beneath the surface however, was a wariness and uncertainty.

"Hi! Which university are you from?"

"I'm actually here as press."

"Oh." The guy's expression morphs as the ramifications filter through his brain. We continue to talk; he's not hostile, but he is guarded.

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Robert Seddon
August 21st, 2016
4:08 PM
Presumably the essay-setter was not a Barthesian.

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