Half of university students in the UK think they would be treated differently if they shared some of their opinions on campus.
In a poll by market research company Survation for ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom), a Christian legal charity, over 1,000 students and graduates from the last five years were asked about how free they felt to speak their mind while at university.
Forty per cent thought expressing their views on campus could adversely affect their career opportunities and 27 per cent said they had hidden views about important issues. The majority of these were political, followed by religious or ethical opinions.
Over a third stated that events had been increasingly cancelled on campus due to objections from other student societies based on the topic or the speakers.
A similar number of people separately disagreed and agreed with the statement 'I hold some views that are legal to express, but my university, student union or peers consider these views unacceptable', with 37 per cent disagreeing and 35 per cent agreeing.
Ryan Christopher, director of ADF in the UK, told Premier he was most concerned about Christian groups at universities: "In particular, our focus has been on Christians and pro-life views...pro-life societies in several UK universities over the last two years have been discriminated against, against the Equality Act in the legal way by universities, who have refused them even the ability to affiliate and meet under the same grounds that other student groups enjoy privileges."
Speaking about what a Christian Union could do if they have been denied rooms or had speakers blocked, he said:
"I think they need to record it and get things in writing, keep the emails and try to make comparisons with what other groups are able to enjoy, in terms of rights and privileges on campus. Obviously, people like my legal team are always willing to give them a bit of informal advice to help as well, but more broadly I would just encourage Christian students to express their Christianity more openly and more often because the bottom line is, if Christian students act as though their views are beyond the pale and don't express them, then other people will see their view as beyond the pale and extreme in some way. If it's not seen as normal behaviour, either on campus or in the street, then people won't see it as normal behaviour or speech. So, Christians need to have a little bit of bravery as well, a little bit of courage and maybe a bit prayer to bolster that as well."