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Panel debate: The university as a free and safe space

FSW Honours Event 18/03/2024

For this year’s Honours Event, we want to create a constructive discussion on the combination of creating a free and safe space at our university.

While some argue that the university should actively create a safe space, others worry that a safe space can put restrictions on the academic freedom. Meanwhile, public debate has sparked around who should and/or shouldn’t be allowed to speak at universities (e.g. the recent lecture by Filip Dewinter about ‘omvolking’) and the question has been asked whether or not universities should take a stance on certain topics (e.g. the Israël-Hamas conflict).

These are some of the controversial questions will guide the panel debate.

The panel

The panel consists of five members. 
  • Firstly, rector Herman Van Goethem, who will provide an overview of the university’s current policy surrounding the topic of debate. 
  • Secondly, Astrid Elbers, a Linguapolis tutor and a member of Hypatia, a group of academics who are concerned about the threat to academic freedom and freedom of speech. 
  • Thirdly, Tundé Adefioye, a dramaturge and lecturer in popular (Black) visual culture. As a public speaker, he has spoken out about whether there are limits to freedom of speech and has written a ten-step plan on how to decolonise the arts sector and make it a safe space. 
  • Next up is Geert Van Eekert, a philosophy professor at our university, joining this debate because of his work on the ‘public space’.
  •  Lastly, Kristien Hens,a philosophy professor engaged with the topic of safe spaces, will moderate the debate will be the moderator.

In short

What? Panel debate

About? The university as a free and safe space

When? Monday March 18th, 19:00-22:00

Where? Stadscampus, room S.M.001


  • 19:00 Doors opening
  • 19:30 Start
  • 21:00 Question time
  • 21:15 Reception with food and drinks
  • 22:00 Closing