Scott Webb
Artillery Row

What are universities coming to?

A spectre is haunting British student politics: the spectre of the pro-life movement

The year is 2021, Harry Potter books are being quietly disposed of in charity shops by embarrassed liberal parents, and evangelical Christian mums are buying them for their children to teach them about Christian values. Yes, the future has arrived, it’s a brave new world, and it has such charming people in it! 

One such charmer is a student named Lauren from the University of Exeter, who took to Twitter to express her profound concern about a subversive new movement that is abroad on British university campuses, leading impressionable young radicals astray when they should be concentrating on their studies. She announced, “I’m currently embarrassed to be a University of Exeter student. Whilst I am represented by the Falmouth and Exeter SU, the Exeter Guild (representing Streatham and St Luke’s students) have allowed a pro-life/anti-abortion society to be set up. It is disgusting.” 

A spectre is haunting British student politics: the spectre of the pro-life movement.  All the powers of Old England have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: the student union and the pro-vice chancellor, Aaron Bastani and Sir Peter Bottomley, the nice humanist chaplain and the sex workers union (undergraduate branch). 

What is driving this slide into moral anarchy?

When good, decent, pot-smoking parents send their child to Bristol or Exeter, they expect a certain standard of education, but also a serious moral foundation. They don’t want to see the children they raised up in the fine liberal tradition corrupted and returning home as strangers using alien words like “personal responsibility”, “monogamy” and “the sanctity of life”. Whilst of course universities should be places for students to freely explore ideas, they’re also pastoral settings, which ought to have a clear ethos aimed at setting young people up for a lifetime of happiness. 

Most parents would expect their children to have the sort of innocent, fulfilling university experience they did. They fondly imagine that their beloved sons and daughters are enjoying semi-comatose casual sex in a flop house, healthily exploring their boundaries and perhaps making the occasional jovial little foray into the student health centre. But the sordid reality (which Lauren so bravely exposed) is that far from the healthy diet of promiscuity and drug-taking that parents expect, today’s students are sipping sherry with the vicar, listening to baroque music on their gramophones and, according to some scarcely believable reports, engaging in unprotected folk dancing. What is driving this slide into moral anarchy? Nothing less, of course, than the pro-life movement.

Older people will be confused by much of the terminology involved and baffled by the opprobrium piled on their greying heads by children and grandchildren. It’s vital to talk to your child and their friends about the dangers of being pro-life, but in order to do so, you have to try and understand their lingo. First of all (something that throws nearly everyone) you’ll hear them talking about “babies” now you or I naturally assume they mean young children, or perhaps their sexual partners, but no! They’re talking about foetuses. One of the main mistakes older people make at this point is to make fun of these crazy kids who ever heard of calling gestational genetic material a BABY for heaven’s sake? But you must understand that as silly as it will sound to most ordinary people, they take it all very seriously. They genuinely believe that at 30 weeks, a genetically faulty foetus is an actual living, breathing baby, and may act accordingly. 

You don’t need to lecture them

Where are they getting it from, you must be asking? Is it the music they listen to these days? The celebrities on TV? Well, they all play a part. Sunday afternoon binge watches of Call the Midwife are of course directly responsible for ideological contamination, but also you must also be on the watch for more subtle influences. The Great British Bake Off may seem like an innocent programme about British ethnic and sexual diversity, but were you aware of its implicitly pro-natal messaging? You pop your head round the door and see a carefully calibrated cross section of British society making strawberry tarts and assume they’re ethically non-monogamous and childfree. But watch a full episode and you’ll see cutaways to three-child families devouring their married parents’ cooking. 

These are some sources of the rot, but if your child has suddenly come off the pill or expressed an interest in reproducing, they’ve probably joined a pro-life society at university. Operating very much like terrorist organisations, these radical organisations adopt a cellular structure made up of tweed-wearing drinking groups of 5-8 individuals who order half pints of cider after church. They are spreading like wildfire in nearly every major British university.

Besides talking to your young person, there are things you can do to fight back. Why not send a care package with some tabs of acid and prophylactics, maybe some home-cooked pot brownies to really make them think of home? You don’t need to lecture them either just sharing links to Guardian articles about reproductive rights in an open-ended way is a great approach to starting a discussion and getting them to reflect on the importance of abortion in our society. Whilst it’s getting harder to find universities safe from the new craze, consider encouraging your kid to apply to institutions where traditional hedonistic values are still taught, such as Goldsmiths, SOAS and Bristol. But at the end of the day, we just have to take a deep breath, settle into a suitably mindful yogic stance and trust that in time, they’ll grow out of it.

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