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

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018
251 Views
1 Comments

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

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 requirement which has no textual presence in their External Speaker Procedure documents.

The Society organised a debate between two prominent YouTubers: ‘Sargon of Akkad’ (real name Carl Benjamin) and ‘Xexizy’ (real name Luke Panayi) on the topic of free speech.

Frida Gustafsson, USSU President, had offered to chair the debate but later withdrew this offer in light of the position of the Union and Sussex students. An alternative chair was then suggested from within University staff on the day of the event.

In an email sent from the USSU Officer team to LtD, they said that Sussex students had complained about the event and that significant student concern swayed Ms Gustafsson’s decision to withdraw. USSU said that the majority of complaints had come from people of colour who felt unsafe with the event taking place.

A comment from Postgraduate Education Officer Sarah McIntosh stated: “This talk could not go ahead as the society did not accept our offer of help to find a suitable chairperson and new information came to light which raised the risk associated with one of their speakers…
“This event had met our requirements to go ahead for a number of weeks until the situation changed on the day of the event.”

The debate was scheduled to take place on campus on April 20th. However, the Students’ Union gave notice of a potential chairing issue only six hours before the event was due to start.

In an email sent to the society that morning, USSU officers also recommended the event be cancelled in order to comply with internal diversity, safe space and zero tolerance policies – despite it’s having been previously approved and Mr Benjamin originally not flagged as medium or high risk.

 

 

SU President Gustafsson, one month before withdrawing from Chairing the debate after concerns from “a number of students”

A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “The University wanted to provide support in making sure the debate took place, as long as it adhered to the Students’ Union external speakers policy. We did put forward a chair to facilitate the debate at short notice which was initially accepted. However, this was later rejected by the society.”

The Badger understands the society rejected the University’s choice of Chair due to a concern over their commitment to free expression in the debate and the topics they would allow for discussion.

Liberate the Debate President Peter Anson was then rejected by USSU as the Society’s last suggestion of Chair, on the basis that Mr. Anson has a conflict of interest in a free speech debate due to his role as chair of a free speech society.

The dispute which led to cancellation was over the need for a neutral chair to challenge speakers’ views and ensure balanced debate. However, this requirement is not a codified rule within the Union’s external speaker Procedure, Guidance or risk assessment.

An LtD response to The Badger claimed that “in our correspondence with the Students’ Union, it was made clear to us that we had full discretion in selecting an appropriate chair, without regard to any vetting which the Students’ Union may deem appropriate.” The policy documents do not state a requirement for a neutral chair even in the case of events flagged as medium-high risk, which Mr Benjamin became in a later risk assessment.

Ms McIntosh told The Badger that “there is no current documentation on the requirements for event chairs as the procedure for dealing with external speakers is new and in the past we’ve looked at the specific requirements for each event.

“We’ll be creating some guidelines so this is clear but have always been happy to give more information if requested.”

Six months ago, The Badger reported that the guidance was ambiguous, as it did not state all regulatory steps which had been used when implementing the policy. USSU said at the time that it would be ‘providing much clearer information’, and adapting the policy if necessary.

The event eventually took place off campus at Stanmer Park and a video of the event has been uploaded to LtD’s YouTube channel.

A group set up to protest the event handed out leaflets condemning Benjamin’s previous comments. A Facebook group entitled “Yes to Free Speech, No to Bigotry // Counter Sargon Talk” was organised by Sussex – Shutdown Yarl’s Wood, Sussex Friends of Palestine Society, Sussex Cut the Rent, Free Education Sussex, Occupy Sussex and University of Sussex Labour Society. The Badger contacted the group but they did not wish to make a statement. LtD also claims that Anti-fascist protesters were in attendance and that one heckler assaulted an LtD member.

Brighton Anti-fascists responded to these allegations by stating: “As far as Brighton Anti-fascists are concerned we did not organise any kind of demonstration against Carl Benjamin’s speech as broadly speaking he is neither a fascist or an ultra-nationalist… we would support anybody who chose to speak out against him, as we understand a number of Sussex students did.

“We don’t know enough to comment on any allegations of assault.”.

Video footage on LtD’s YouTube channel shows an altercation. The video footage is unclear and we have been unable to identify an instigator. However, a scuffle broke out between audience members and the alleged victim of the assault, with a LtD organiser being shoved from behind after the initial altercation. The debate continued after this altercation was resolved.

LtD initially listed the debate on Eventbrite and The Students’ Union website with tickets costing £5 and £3 respectively. The SU offered to cover the cost of cancelling the event. Proceeds from ticket sales were intended to be used to fund security, with ticket holders were advised they would need ID upon entry. This was in order to comply with SU security policies surrounding events and external speakers. However, after the event was cancelled and moved away from campus, security were unable to provided their pre-arranged service.

Sargon of Akkad has proven a controversial figure. A talk he attended at King’s College London in March this year saw violent protests. The police were called and the incident was reported on by several national news outlets.

You can read the responses from both Students’ Union President Frida Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate’s Edward Seccombe here.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Free-Speech Warriors Mistake Rambling Man for Vice Chancellor | THE SECOND SOURCE

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
54 views
Artist Focus
54 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…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
36 views
Interview
36 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
81 views
Arts
81 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
72 views
Arts
72 views

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

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
88 views
Arts
88 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
80 views
Artist Focus
80 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
68 views
Books
68 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
102 views
Science
102 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
143 views
News
143 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS
Comment
141 views
Comment
141 views

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS

Sarah McIntosh - May 2, 2018

The idea of a land where my religious identity is welcomed and where I feel safe to be myself and live in peace is a beautiful idea…

Student research happening at Sussex
Features
126 views
Features
126 views

Student research happening at Sussex

Nikolaos Manesis - May 1, 2018

(Image source: Flickr, Pixabay, Wikipedia) Another academic year is coming to a close and with it, the last edition of The Badger. To celebrate our last science…

Sussex Festival cancelled
Campus News
176 views
Campus News
176 views

Sussex Festival cancelled

Jordan Wright - April 30, 2018

The Students’ Union have cancelled their highly anticipated end-of-term event Sussex Festival: Desert Island Disco, which was due to begin on Saturday May 12th. The Students’ Union…

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event
Comment
194 views
Comment
194 views

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

These comment pieces represent the opinions of both the Students' Union and Liberate the Debate with regards to the  recent cancellation of the Society's freedom of speech…

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
131 views
Artist Focus
131 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018

Rory Hinshelwood studies Zoology with Spanish at Sussex. His brand is called Poplar St., at the moment the brand sell embroidered high-quality t-shirts. Rory works mostly in graphics…

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen
Artist Focus
96 views
Artist Focus
96 views

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

Emma Phillips - April 24, 2018

The Badger spoke with Sussex University’s Maayan Cohen about her creative workshop, ‘Bits and Pieces.’ Can you tell us a bit about Bits and Pieces- what’s the…

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review
Arts
105 views
Arts
105 views

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

As part of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Undisciplined, Voodoo comes to being as a collaboration between South East Dance and Project O. Project O brings artists Alexandrina…

Arts
109 views

Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

For the concluding show of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Double Bill brings two short performances to The Old Market’s stage: Comebacks I thought of later by Eleanor…

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review
Arts
166 views
Arts
166 views

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review

Georgia Grace - April 24, 2018

Last week at the Attenborough Centre, the phenomenally unique and refreshing dance company Candoco brought to the stage a double bill of performances exploring identity, community and…

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome
Arts
159 views
Arts
159 views

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome

Matthew Nicholls - April 19, 2018

Following the release of his Fourth Studio album ‘Hearts that Strain’ in September 2017, Jake Bugg decided he wanted an intimate tour, and that is exactly what…

Should Instrumental Skill Still Matter?
Arts
140 views
Arts
140 views

Should Instrumental Skill Still Matter?

Rob Smith - April 19, 2018

I am not advocating that all music, no matter how little talent is required, is by default innovative. I will eagerly admit that much of the bland,…