Timely discussion

Isaac Leigh, the president of the Warwick University Student Union, posted a statement on the WSU Facebook page a little over an hour ago.


“In reference to the external speaker request the SU has received regarding Maryam Namazie visiting Warwick SU, I feel I must clarify both mine and the SU’s position given the rather premature discussion alive on social media and in the press.

As previously stated, the SU has a process for assessing the risks associated with any external speaker in accordance with our legal responsibilities. Our policy aims to provide an environment where freedom of expression and speech are protected, balanced with the need to ensure that our community is free from harm and ensure that incitement to hatred is never acceptable.

However, our policy has a number of stages and – whilst risks have indeed been identified – contrary to what has been communicated in the public domain over the last 24 hours, no final decision has been taken. The responsibility for doing so is mine along with authorised senior staff members. To this point, neither I nor authorised senior staff members have had any involvement in the process – the next stage of which is that we review the request, determine what can be put in place to facilitate the event and then discuss this with the event organiser, whose role is integral to the process.

We have a record of facilitating over 200 speakers a year covering a wide range of topics, many of which are controversial in nature. This is part of our role in the development of our members. We do everything in our power to ensure that these events take place, safely and with any identified risks mitigated. Declining speaker requests is an absolute last resort.

I would reiterate that the process for reviewing this particular speaker event has not been completed and, once I and senior staff members have reviewed it, a further statement will be made.”

Warwick SU President

The Independent article I just blogged about did say that a final decision would be forthcoming, meaning it hadn’t been issued yet, but it also said the [interim] position was a No.

So the discussion isn’t “premature,” this is just the right time for it.


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