The slow burn

Harry Lambert at the New Statesman on Sussex and Stock:

On Saturday 16 October nearly one hundred people took over an open day at the University of Sussex to protest the employment of Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy. “Stock out!” “Get Kathleen off our campus!” “No Terfs here!” rang the chants. “Don’t come to Sussex!” they warned visitors.

They handed out an illiterate leaflet to explain their “reasons.”

When I visited Stock recently, she spoke haltingly of the slow burn of her social isolation at Sussex, punctured as it has been by the discovery of new online attacks and internal emails undermining her in the wake of any publicity she attracts.

Oh that must be nice – knowing her colleagues are abusing her in internal emails.

“This month is just the endgame. Some of my colleagues have been spinning a line against me for a long time,” she told me.

I asked Nehaal Bajwa, the diversity officer at Sussex Students’ Union, how Stock was contributing to the “dire state of unsafety for trans people in this colonial shit-hole”, as the leaflet put it. Stock’s views created “an unsafe atmosphere” for trans students, Bajwa said, as protesters overtook the campus square, setting off pink and blue flares, Stock cancelled her courses and followed police advice to stay off campus and secure her home. I asked a protester whether the demo was designed to be intimidating. “We’re standing still,” they said. “Her presence to us is intimidating.”

No it isn’t. She’s not the one brandishing flares.

But the university did not act to address this culture of harassment, despite one fellow professor regularly hounding Stock online in all but name, and another academic openly tweeting “shame” on Stock and her “fellow transphobic ilk”. Instead, administrators gave Stock’s critics access to the internal email system to send school-wide messages without offering Stock a right of reply. And those in managerial roles supported her critics rather than remaining neutral. Stock became ever more socially isolated.

Emphasis added. Good god.

Three of Stock’s four fellow professors of philosophy at Sussex told me that they supported her academic freedom, but none would say so publicly, despite more than 200 UK academic philosophers signing an open letter supporting Stock’s and others’ “right to raise concerns on this matter”…

The outgoing Sussex vice-chancellor, Adam Tickell, declined to speak to me. In a statement, the university said it had spoken out “against bullying and harassment”. Tickell recently made a clear statement in support of Stock on BBC radio. Yet he and his team are acting late, having left the accusation that one of their professors is “transphobic” unaddressed for years. Stock is now likely to leave her post.

They will succeed in bullying her out for the crime of being a feminist who disputes some (not all) claims of current trans dogma. It’s sickening.

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