External Speaker Policy
The University of Reading has a long and rich history as an academic institution that has regularly welcomed visiting speakers from around the world to its campuses. Such speakers have brought and continue to bring great diversity of experience, insight and opinion, enriching our events and activities and sparking discussion and debate among our students, staff and visitors alike.
The purpose of this policy is to set in place a governing framework for visiting speakers to ensure that this proud heritage, where debate, challenge and dissent are not only permitted but expected, can continue for current and future generations.
Booking an external speaker
Anyone organising an event as described above must follow the External Speaker Booking Process detailed below.
The majority of external speaker requests will be straightforward and can be handled entirely at a local (departmental) level. In these cases, following the steps outlined in the "Local assessment of proposed external speaker(s)" below will suffice.
However, some requests may be complex and may require referral for further consideration. The referral process will only apply in a minority of circumstances – to events or speakers deemed to be higher-risk.
Local assessment of proposed external speaker(s)
Prior to the confirmation of any external speaker, the event organiser will be responsible for assessing the speaker against the following set of questions:
- Question 1: Has the speaker previously been prevented from speaking at Reading or another University or similar establishment or previously been known to express views that may be in breach of the External Speaker Code of Conduct?
- Question 2: Does the proposed title or theme of the event present a potential risk that views/opinions expressed by speakers may be in breach of the External Speaker Code of Conduct?
- Question 3: Is the proposed speaker/theme likely to attract attendance from individuals/groups that have previously been known to express views that may be in breach of the External Speaker Code of Conduct?
If the answer to all three questions is NO:
The event organiser can confirm the external speaker and 'book' them to speak at their event or activity in the normal way. (It is required that the external speaker be sent a copy of the External Speaker Code of Conduct).
If the answer to any of the questions is unclear:
The event organiser must seek guidance from their line manager or head of function, whose responsibility it will be to further review the speaker(s) against the questions above.
Ultimately, if the answer to any of the questions is YES:
It is the responsibility of the event organiser to submit a referral to the Vice-Chancellor's Office.
The referral process
To make a speaker referral submission:
- Download the External Speaker Policy Referral Form.
- Complete all sections of the form with as much detail as possible.
- Send the form as an attachment to the Vice-Chancellor's Office firstname.lastname@example.org
- RUSU and VenueReading will be responsible for enacting the external speaker booking process and ensuring compliance with the External Speaker Policy for all events managed by them.
- In the case of RUSU, they will be responsible for implementing a system to support all student events with proposed external speakers. They will undertake the local assessment with/on behalf of individual students, clubs or societies. In the event that a referral is required, RUSU will be responsible for making the submission with/on behalf of the student co-ordinator.
- In the case of VenueReading, they will be responsible for implementing a system to support all client events with proposed external speakers on our campus/in our venues. They will undertake the local assessment with/on behalf of individual clients/organisations. In the event that a referral is required, VenueReading will be responsible for making the submission with/on behalf of the client.
- The External Speaker Policy and approval process will be continually reviewed and updated in response to legislative changes and other factors. It is the responsibility of those organising events to ensure that they are acting in accordance with the most recent version of the Policy, which will be published by the University on its website.
- Also that the External Speaker Policy and approval process sits alongside, but is currently separate from the University's event notification/approval process, which event organisers will need to comply with separately and as required.