University hosts debate on ‘Generation Snowflake’

Professor Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor at University of Sussex
Professor Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor at University of Sussex

The University of Sussex will hold the first in a series of debates on free expression, with the first centred around the phrase ‘Generation Snowflake’.

‘Snowflake’ is a derogatory term used by some to describe the younger generation, suggesting they are unable to deal with opposing opinions.

The subject will be debated at a new event called the Exchange, pitched as ‘a place to share ideas’.

The panel for the ‘Generation Snowflake’ debate will include:

- Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley

- Grace Campbell, comedian, filmmaker and founder of The Pink Protest

- Alon Harshak, American studies and English graduate at Sussex, youth worker and former coordinator of the Sussex Students Union’s Role Models Project

- Edward Wilson, a politics and international relations student at the University of Sussex, and former vice–president of the Conservative Society

-Aubrey Allegretti, Sky News reporter and a former Sussex student.

University vice-chancellor Adam Tickell wrote a blog introducing the event, and said: “If you believe some commentators, we are witnessing a widespread chilling of free speech on university campuses, driven by a ‘snowflake’ generation who are too delicate to hear discordant opinions.

‘No-platforming’, trigger warnings and safe spaces are all held up as symptoms of a spreading societal ill.

“The recent reports of the University of Manchester Students’ Union ‘banning clapping’ brought this into sharp focus. For some, this was classic ‘snowflake’ behaviour, an absurd and unnecessary intrusion into people’s right to express themselves. To others, it was a polite and reasonable accommodation to students, such as those with autism, who experience disturbing sensory overload in loud places. To some social scientists it could be seen as a progressive and experimental move towards testing how society could be more inclusive.

“While, for some, the snowflake phenomenon is little more than an excuse to sling around an unkind name, that doesn’t mean we should rush to dismiss any and all arguments put forward.

“Beyond the overblown headlines, this conversation gives us the opportunity to talk about some serious issues.”

To read more of Mr Tickell’s thoughts on the subject click here.

The first Exchange event takes place on Thursday November 15, from 6pm at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Sussex.

To find out more, and to book tickets, visit: www.sussex.ac.uk/news/events/the-exchange