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Co-founder of Bristol Free Speech Society resigns

Izzy Posen cited ‘fundamental disagreements on core values’ as his reason for leaving the society he founded.

By Megan Evans, News Subeditor

Izzy Posen cited ‘fundamental disagreements on core values’ as his reason for leaving the society he founded.

The founder of Bristol’s Free Speech Society, Izzy Posen, has resigned from his position on the committee.

Announcing his resignation in a Facebook post, he said: ‘This [move] was due to fundamental disagreements on core values that have emerged under the new committee. I felt [they] deviated from the society’s original mission to too large an extent to ignore.’

‘Questions [of free speech] are nuanced and complex, but for me it has always been about acknowledging the complexity but then erring [towards] increasing free speech. This isn’t what has been happening in the society recently.’

He expressed his pride in the group’s work on encouraging viewpoint diversity and combatting censorship on campus, especially considering its establishment before the 2019 government guidelines protecting free speech at universities.

In their own statement, the Bristol Free Speech Society acknowledged: ‘The direction of the society has changed over the past year, focussing more on issues that often go undiscussed in free speech discourse.

‘We are committed to fostering an environment in which open debate, viewpoint diversity and tolerance are respected, and we have made decisions intended to promote these values.’

The society ensured they would ‘reflect on concerns raised by Izzy’, for whom ‘the value clash was too difficult to reconcile.’

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The announcement came a day before the launch of a new group, the Free Speech Champions, which Posen is also a founder of.

It also follows just days after the government’s controversial proposal to strengthen free speech in universities and students’ unions. The proposal would allow individuals to claim legal compensation if they suffer losses as a result of impaired free speech.

Featured: The society's 2019 committee | Photo courtesty of Bristol Free Speech Society

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