Greer sparks outrage- Oxford
The Oxford Student Union found itself the subject of much criticism last week after it invited Germaine Greer and Peter Hitchens to speak at a debate it hosted. Greer rose to prominence recently after her comments about trans people and Hitchens is renowned for his racist and Islamophobic views which he describes as ‘social conservatism’. Their presence at the debate sparked outrage from many students who spoke over Greer’s speech and led to the Union having to shut down the gallery above the debating hall for ‘fear of objects and liquids being thrown down on the speakers’. Many students spoke afterwards about how the Union “thrives off controversy”, with some even claiming that “publicity matters more to us [the Union] than trans lives do”. In response, the Oxford Union claimed that the purpose of the two speakers being invited to the debate was in order to encourage students present to challenge them on their views.
Consent classes passed- Leeds
Leeds University Student Union will become one of the first to offer consent classes after they passed the ‘Better Union Forum’ with twelve yes votes and only one no vote. The classes, which will attempt to teach students how to properly recognise sexual consent (or, indeed, a lack of consent), will take place during the University’s 2016 Fresher’s Week. Nationally, the classes have been the subject of much discussion, with some claiming that consent classes are ‘insulting’ for suggesting men need to be taught to be decent human beings. The National Union of Students is running a campaign in order to attempt to get the classes rolled out at universities across the country.
President suspended- De Montfort
Mystery surrounds the sudden suspension of De Montfort University’s Student Union President, Adil Waraich, last week, with rumours circulating that it was due to him running a video campaign against the Prime Minister. David Cameron received a Companionship from the University in August this year due to his part in passing legislation for same-sex marriage in 2013, although many students at the University feel that Cameron has not done enough for LGBT rights in order to receive this honour. It is alleged that Waraich was part of a group of students who produced a video claiming it was wrong to honour the Prime Minister in such a way for playing a relatively small part in the overall struggle for LGBT rights. Waraich argued that it is part of his job to ‘speak on behalf of students’, many of whom felt strongly on this issue and were reportedly ‘fobbed off’ by the University when they tried to complain. A week after the video appeared online, Waraich received a formal complaint from the University, ultimately leading to his suspension. The investigation is ongoing.
Poverty linked to crime- Edinburgh
Research carried out by the University of Edinburgh Law School has found links between living in poverty and committing crime. The study, which began in 1998, suggested that the Scottish criminal justice system ‘punishes poor people’ and pushes them into a cycle of committing crime in order to attempt to escape poverty. The research also demonstrated that young people in poverty are twice as likely to be prosecuted than those who are financially better off, for committing the same crime. The report author, Professor Lesley McAra said that “Our findings highlight a very destructive dynamic- poverty increases the risk of violence”. This research has been heralded as being of huge importance as Scotland currently has 500,000 people living in severe poverty, according to a recent government report.