Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
9 views
9 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
35 views
35 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
32 views
32 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
61 views
61 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
350 Views
1 Comments

An academic’s response to the Vice-Chancellor

 

The following open letter to the university Vice-Chancellor was sent to The Badger. We are happy to publish it as indeed we are always happy to publish letters written by students and staff which are sent to our Letters section, whether they be about content in the publication or wider issues. The letters which we publish do not reflect the editorial views of The Badger, which does not have an editorial stance: instead, as a student newspaper, The Badger serves as a platform for the individual views of our contributors.

The following letter is a response to Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell’s email of February 22 titled “respecting different opinions and voices”. The email itself was a response to an opinion piece written by a Sussex student in The Telegraph on February 21.


“On not respecting all opinions”: a response to Adam Tickell’s email entitled “On respecting all opinions”

Adam Tickell has communicated his willingness to celebrate critical enquiry and the capacity to challenge. That is the only thing I can agree with in his email, and so I take up his invitation to critique and challenge the remainder of the text. I address his points in the order he makes them.
Does “right-wing” denote racism and homophobia sufficiently strongly to justify the equivalence implied in the title of the (optional, extra-curricular) seminar held last week?
Racism and homophobia do exist across the political spectrum. But that is as uninformative and unhelpful as saying that implicit bias exists across the political spectrum. Racism and homophobia are everywhere, that’s what it means to say they’re structural. However, they concentrate and thrive within ideologies in which they find points of moral and political agreement. In their most worrying forms, racism and homophobia are not contingent features of individual people, but are ideological positions which are more readily accommodated within particular political camps. Conservative ideologies, in their social manifestation, often have strong historical and current associations with racism and homophobia. That is because conservative political ideologies, by their very definition, uphold traditional social institutions. And traditional social institutions are our closest link to histories of sexism and racism.
We must not simply value and embrace difference for the sake of difference. That is to put the cart before the horse. To permit opinions which entrench oppressive views and thereby prevent the expression of other opinions would be morally self-defeating! If a student expresses a racist view in my class, I explain to the student why they are wrong (usually on both factual and moral grounds). I thereby make it clear that certain views are not welcome in my classroom. You might say it’s a way of shutting down difference. Does that student feel less able to express similar views in future? Maybe. Hopefully they will think a little harder, and make better arguments in future. But perhaps they will just sulk and not speak again. Either way, I deliberately make clear that their “difference” is not welcome, because I have other students in my class whose protection is a greater moral duty.
I feel it is more appropriate to speak directly of colonialism, and the damaging causal role our country has played, and continues to play, in the production of violence and authoritarianism in the Middle East. There is so much dehistoricizing and evasion of responsibility on this point, and I find Tickell’s phrasing (“historic ties”) to be far too equivocal on a matter of grave importance.
Tolerance and diversity do apply to everyone, but not in every sphere. That is simply not what they are for. We must be tolerant of people of all genders, sexualities, races, religions, as equal members of our society. However, we may criticise any political view; in that domain, there is no automatic duty toward tolerance or diversity. Political views are not protected characteristics. We must accept diversity across protected characteristics, in recognition of the prevalence of structural oppression along those axes. But we need not, for example, accept a diversity of views on whether or not the Holocaust occurred. That would be ridiculous and harmful.
I think it would be fairer for Tickell to state explicitly what he considers to be upsetting about the language of the phrase ‘Israel Apartheid Week.’ The state of Israel enacts apartheid against Palestinians. That’s a political fact, and an upsetting one, to be sure. So too is the fact of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, which is why the UN has declared it a violation of international law. We can argue over why Israel conducts itself in this way, but we cannot argue that it does not without running up against a very convincing body of credible evidence. I am deeply concerned if we are not able to criticise the actions of states, especially given that we have students in our community who have been directly affected by such actions. I am not entirely clear on what Tickell means by “religious […] opinions about the politics of the Middle East” but such a phrase strikes me as a way of placing particular political opinions beyond critique.
Respecting different opinions cannot be our guiding mission, for it commits us to a relativism under which all manner of horrors could occur. We should instead do whatever promotes justice within our communities. That requires us to challenge, and discredit, large-scale ideologies that threaten women, people of colour, disabled people, and people of non-normative sexualities, sexes, and genders. It does not require us to protect right-wing individuals or groups. Rather, it compels us to challenge them to whatever extent they infringe upon the human rights of those just mentioned. And, taking operational definitions of “right-wing” from the most powerful movements in the West at this present moment, (which seems to be the most context-relevant, reified way of defining the term) it is obvious not only that Jan Selby was perfectly justified in naming the seminar in the way he did, but that he deserves the respect and support of our community for his bravery and commitment in having organised such a seminar in the first place.

Arianne Shahvisi

Lecturer in Ethics, Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
9 views
9 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
35 views
35 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
32 views
32 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
61 views
61 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

One Comment

  1. Bullying people you are in a superior position to into silence is usually the reserve of petty dictators and others who would deny enquiring minds the chance to explore ideas. I hope no-one suffers from having said the wrong thing in class.

    The court of Versailles would contract the assertion that Israel Occupies the land illegally. Conveniently ignored by people who would rather not deal with facts. http://www.dreuz.info/2017/01/13/israel-is-the-legal-occupant-of-the-west-bank-says-the-court-of-appeal-of-versailles-france/. Perhaps a French student can translate and verify the court ruling on this matter?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
9 views
Arts
9 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
22 views
Film & Theatre
22 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Anonymous - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
35 views
Sports
35 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
32 views
Arts
32 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
61 views
Arts
61 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1130 views1
Campus News
1130 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018
News
62 views1
News
62 views1

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy Lecturer at Sussex, was accused of making transphobic comments in July 2018. This followed various interviews and blog posts by Stock. Stock told…

Welcome 2018 Freshers!
Campus News
68 views
Campus News
68 views

Welcome 2018 Freshers!

Billie-Jean Johnson - September 15, 2018

Ah, Freshers. You’ve no idea the amazing year you have ahead of you! As you read this now, you’ve probably met your flatmates and maybe even met…

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity
Opinion
59 views
Opinion
59 views

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy lecturer at Sussex University, met with controversy after criticising the government’s reform of the Gender Recognition Act (2004). The amendment would ‘de-medicalise’ the…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
386 views
Arts
386 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
390 views
Arts
390 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
364 views
Arts
364 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
429 views
Arts
429 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
445 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
383 views
Arts
383 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
361 views
Arts
361 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
547 views
Campus News
547 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
312 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
910 views
Arts
910 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
370 views
Arts
370 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
452 views
Artist Focus
452 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…