Christopher George: Cambridge Union President on why free speech is not a right-wing issue

Christopher George

“My view is that free speech is a fundamental tool for democracy and progress, which is why I resent, to an extent, that it's perceived as a right-wing issue,” says Cambridge Union President, Christopher George.

Christopher George

Christopher is the first student from Wolfson, or any of the mature and post-graduate only colleges, to be President of the Cambridge Union in the institution’s 207-year history. Elected by members, now heads a team of over 150 students and staff.

Christopher spoke to the University recently about his new position, the challenges that await, and the ‘marketplace of ideas’.

“Free speech provides the foundation for a marketplace where ideas can be put forward, exchanged, and challenged,” he says. “Through this process, we can make progress. Of course, participants in this market place of ideas do not always agree, indeed they are not meant to.

“But the big issue with the market place is access and that’s not just systemic obstacles such as the cost of joining the Union (currently a lifetime membership is £230), it’s also image: it’s the actions of certain people who may say something that puts others off, or makes them feel deeply uncomfortable.

“There are a number of challenges that need to be addressed, but we have started making some progress. I’m pleased that we’re able to fund 50 scholarships per year with a focus on STEM subjects addressing the lower take up of memberships in that area.

“We’re going to push to get more students from Anglia Ruskin University to join. It’s important to stress that this isn’t just a Cambridge University institution. We’re open to people across the city, across the country and the world, enabling them to come to a place where they can hear a range of ideas.”

You can read the full interview with Christopher on the Cambridge University website now.

And you can read our interview with Christopher George in the latest edition of The Wolfson Review, available online now.

Image courtesy of: Nordin Ćatić