Protesters silenced, not Stock

Submitted by AWL on 1 December, 2021 - 9:58
Sussex University sign

Academic freedom is a specific principle relating to the sphere of academia and the university setting. It is the right to research and teach without political or commercial interference and institutional censorship. Despite Jack McDonough (Solidarity 615), I’d say Kathleen Stock’s academic freedom has not been compromised.

Since Kathleen Stock’s resignation, she has positioned herself as a victim of a university-rife “cancel culture” and she has tarnished student protesters as medieval witch-hunters. It is the voices of the student protesters that have been silenced, not Stock’s.

What were the students protesting about? Kathleen Stock’s signing of the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights and her involvement in the LGB Alliance — both of which are hostile to trans people and are a threat to the existing legal rights of trans people in the Gender Recognition Act.

Free speech is different from academic freedom and does not exclude academics. Free speech is a limited right in law.

The student protesters at the University of Sussex had a right to protest against hostility and threat to trans people. The University had a responsibility to investigate — through due process — this grievance. It did not. The Vice Chancellor sided with Stock.

Should I be sympathetic to Kathleen Stock, who faced these student protests? These protests were opposing a movement — and those within it — which is against trans existence and rights, and cruelly vilifies and delegitimises the trans woman. This is the reality. Kathleen Stock is not a victim, in fact, she has hegemony on her side. Solidarity with our trans comrades is both critical and urgent.

Camila Bassi, Sheffield

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