Written by Student Rights on 29 November 2011 at 1pm

Students 'boycott evolution'

idj-lav0075-017 It has recently been reported that an increasing number of Muslim students studying at University College London (UCL) have been boycotting lectures on evolution as they clash with their beliefs.

Steve Jones, the Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics who teaches Biology undergraduates at the University told the Sunday Times “They don’t come or they complain about it or they send notes or emails saying they shouldn’t have to learn this stuff”. He suggested that this was because “they object to the idea that there is a random process out there which is not directed by God”.

This opposition to the subject has been seen before on university campuses, when in 2006 students from King’s College London circulated leaflets questioning Darwinism at Guy’s Hospital as part of Islam Awareness Week.

It has also been suggested that this reflects a growing trend outside of campuses, with the Turkish creationist Harun Yahya’s writings increasing in popularity. To carry out a boycott is of course well within their rights, however the concerns will no doubt escalate when upon taking the relevant end of year tests, these students may not do very well.

There should be no talk of forcing students to attend lectures; the crucial relationship between university and student is one of wanting to learn, not being forced to do so. If students wish to wilfully risk failing their course by not learning the most crucial theory in biology then that is up to them. However, there can be no complaint if and when this does happen.

To simply walk out when faced with ideas that you are opposed to does not show principle, instead it shows intolerance and an inability to engage critical facilities. One of the main reasons why university is so vital is that it teaches students how to do just this, so if students are avoiding these opportunities they are only damaging their own prospects by refusing to attend lectures in this way.