Warwick Labour on Recent Claims in the Boar

We are concerned by some of the unsubstantiated claims made in the Boar about the inclusivity of our society, they are not representative of the experience of our members or of anything that has been said at Lefty Lattes.

We encourage all progressives to come along to Lefty Lattes, we have a range of interesting topics coming up and all details are available on our Facebook page.

Lefty Lattes is Warwick Labour’s weekly discussion event, there is a different subject for discussion every week picked by members, from how to combat anti-Semitism in the party to combating sexual violence on campus. We have specific policy for how our lefty lattes discussions are conducted, it is a non-alcoholic event, held in a wheelchair accessible location, where people are asked to treat each other with respect and to respect what everyone has to say. Prejudiced language is not tolerated, everyone is given an opportunity to share their thoughts on a subject with those who speak least prioritised and encouraged to contribute.

We also have a safer space policy, now enshrined in our constitution, which protects members at all events from prejudice and abuse, additionally, we have just introduced a welfare officer and will soon be launching a welfare inbox for members. We encourage people to contact us via the Facebook page if they have any concerns.

Uncritically reproducing claims from an anonymous survey of only 100 people, which is clearly unrepresentative and open to abuse, without even asking for comment on these claims is journalistic bad-practice par excellence and disappointing to see from the Boar.

our statement

Content notice: rape, racism and sexual violence.

 

We stand in full solidarity with the victims of the comments made in the group chat whose screenshots detailing misogynistic, rape apologist, racist, anti-semitic and ableist language were made public yesterday, as well as anyone who was affected by them. We are appalled by the behaviour exhibited in these chats, and understand it to be part of a broader epidemic of sexual violence in universities, where these comments and behaviour are normalised and even excused under the guise of ‘free speech’ or ‘banter’. This is no laughing matter, 62% of students have reported being subject to sexual violence at their time in university, with 8% of women graduates being victims of rape, twice as much as the rate for women overall in England and Wales (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/02/universities-rape-epidemic-sexual-assault-students). These comments cannot be defended under the right to privacy or under the banner of free speech. For far too long this language has been used behind closed doors without consequence, feeding these ideologies, allowing them to fester into abuse. This doesn’t just stop at written expression, it has drastic consequences as detailed above, which could severely affect the lives of many.

 

It’s time universities took this matter seriously, we hear in mainstream discourse that we need more education to change bigoted views, yet this abuse is being perpetrated by students attending renowned universities. We need more: we need a feminist education, a decolonised and anti-racist education which doesn’t shy away from challenging oppressive views prevalent in our society. Our marketised education system means our universities are more concerned with their public image and looking glossy and polished for prospective students, than actively putting out resources to prevent sexual violence and support the victims of it. (https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/feb/02/universities-reluctant-tackle-sexual-violence-fear-pr-fallout).

 

The university must take a firm and unequivocal stance against the violent sexist and racist behaviour encouraged within the group chat in question, this means holding every participant of the conversation fully accountable for what they have said. Moreover, some of the acts encouraged and praised in the chat involve violently raping and sexually assaulting women & girls and enacting violence against Jewish people and ethnic minorities. This goes beyond accountability and becomes an issue of safety, wellbeing and principle. This blatant disregard for the humanity and wellbeing of women and ethnic minorities, in addition to the promotion of real physical harm against these groups, means that these predators should not be trusted to return back to this university. They should be expelled to ensure the safety of those who they have callously threatened to rape, beat and brutalise.

 

If given the opportunity to remain in this university, these predators will have the access to obtain the societal privilege, power and wealth associated with having a qualification from Warwick. This power will enable them to act on their words in the future, enacting violence on at-risk people whilst being protected by privilege and money thus escaping accountability again and again. The university must end this cycle before it begins. If this university is claiming to be a diverse and inclusive space, it must send a clear message that it does not stand by these views. This should be done by removing and expelling the dangerous predators in question, according to their degree of involvement. They must be dealt with uncompromisingly and unapologetically – along with all other rapists, racists and rape enthusiasts.

 

Most importantly, we should not sensationalise this one incident: disciplinary action for these perpetrators won’t solve the wider problems that made this group chat possible. Sexism, rape apology, racism and antisemitism do not disappear by making these predators disappear. Racist discourses and rape culture will remain firmly in place on campus, in campus groups/societies, in our university accommodations, during our club nights and in wider society until institutions like our university become proactive rather than reactive. This University has failed to do this so far. Here are our demands of this ‘diverse and inclusive’ university:

  1. GET THE PREDATORS OUT.
  2. Make use of the resources that we already have surrounding consent. The #WeGetConsent campaign, amongst other thorough consent campaigns across campuses all over the UK, has great videos that must be distributed and made more visible to all Warwick students.
  3. Repurpose the Piazza big screen, currently used for endless and repetitive self-promotion videos played at students & staff that are already members of this institution, to play consent videos from the SU and other similar videos from liberation campaigns.
  4. Invest more money and resources into the anti-sexist and anti-racist campaigns that students have devoted so much of their time to despite a lack of adequate funding and institutional support. This involves greater support for victims and survivors of sexist and racist abuse.
  5. Enforce consent training and bystander intervention training for students and staff. Bystander intervention training was recently put on the curriculum for first year PAIS students, this must become part of the curriculum for all university departments.

 

We conclude this statement by urging all students to be dissatisfied with bigotry. When you encounter rape apology, sexual violence, misogyny, anti-semitism, nazi ideology, violence against minorities, racist rhetoric, islamophobia, white supremacy, LGBTQ+-phobias, ableism, classism and other forms of prejudice, we urge you to take a stand and speak up in whichever capacity you feel capable and comfortable. (https://www.warwicksu.com/advice/crime/hatecrime/) Do not let predators, violent misogynists and racists fly under the radar or go unchallenged. Sometimes this means exposing group chats like these to ensure the safety of marginalised groups.

 

Signed –

Warwick Anti-Sexism Society

Warwick Anti-Racism Society

Warwick Jewish Society

Warwick Labour

Warwick for Free Education

Warwick Pride

Warwick Enable

“We’re all just different!” How Intersectionality is Being Colonized by White People

Thinking Race...

Intersectionality-01

Working in student affairs on a university campus, I feel like I hear the words “intersectionality” or “intersectional” said out loud at least 20 times a day (no exaggeration). The word is regularly used as a powerful critique from young women of Color about how White feminist staff members don’t seem to understand the violence we enact. Often, though, I hear the term used by White feminist or “social justice focused” staff such as myself.

We use the term in many vague ways. “We really need to be sure our work is intersectional…We need to be more intersectional in how we talk about student identities…Our teaching strategies must be intersectional and culturally responsive.” I don’t use “we” in the royal sense. This is something I do all the time without thinking critically about my meaning.

But what the hell are we even saying when we use the term?

We have…

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Behind the Scenes of ‘you did not break us’

‘you did not break us’ is a play by lanaire aderemi (verse writer) based on women who ‘resist the shackles their hands are legs in’. The short play that took place in the University of Warwick on the 27th and 28th of February as well as the 3rd of March is based on true historical accounts in Nigeria such as anti-colonial feminist protests in the East and South as well as girls’ fight for education in the North.The characters performed their solidarity though dance, collective action and poetry.

These photos were taken by Eniafe Momodu(@eniafemomodu) shortly before the play’s final screening at 6pm.