KCLSU would like to express solidarity with our transgender and women students who will be affected by the "Endangered Speech" event on 13th November. At KCLSU, liberation is at that the heart of what we do and as your elected Officers it is our role to look out for the welfare of all students which includes our transgender and women students; which is why we are deeply disappointed and concerned with the news that Joanna Williams has been invited to speak at KCL.
Joanna Williams, an associate editor of Spiked, has previously opposed provisions for transgender people, opposed the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault and has constantly undermined the feminist movement. We believe there is a high risk of her advocacy for freedom of speech resulting, in attacks on transgender people (especially transgender women) and their right to exist. Freedom of speech is not without consequence and we are deeply disappointed that the Department of War Studies has not taken into account the effect this would have on our student community.
University is a place where views are shared and debated freely, however, there is a line between sharing a view and advocating for the dismissal of an entire demographic or undermining the violence experienced by another. The choice to invite her demonstrates a lack of sufficient care for students who might be harmed by her speaking at King's College London.
If free speech is such a concern for the department, we expect a more comprehensive approach to be taken; one which includes for example, how policies such as Prevent affect the way in which students and academics alike express their intellectual views. However, until then, it seems that this talk only serves as a platform for a harmful speaker as opposed to truly addressing the issue of free speech on campus. It is not an encouraging start for a series of talks on free speech.
#ItStopsHere is a campaign which ourselves and the University have committed to which seeks to eliminate bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct on campus and tackling their causes – one of which is the legitimacy of the views that are expressed in such events.
As always we are committed to bettering the welfare of our students so if you feel negatively affected by this event - or by sexist or transphobic behaviour on campus - do not hesitate to contact us or any of the Networks at KCLSU. You can also contact KCLSU Advice at [email protected] who can support you in making a formal complaint to KCLSU.
We are currently working on developing a greater understanding and greater accountability for staff-led events and will keep you updated on our communication with the College.