Statements from Brunel University
Student Rights have received a statement from Promise Phillips, the President of the Union of Brunel Students (UBS), which outlines the Union position on Abu Usamah’s presence on campus.
This states that:
“The UBS is aware of the visit to speak next week from Abu Usama Adhhabi, and is aware of controversial comments attributed to him and the challenges these bring.
The UBS works closely with both our societies and Brunel University to ensure that all speakers invited onto campus are authorised, have a clear understanding of the policy umbrella under which they are required to behave, and that the commitment to Freedom of Speech is balanced by Equality and Diversity Policies.
The UBS further maintains a No Platform Policy and each speaker invited onto campus is assessed to ensure that this policy is not breached.
The UBS abhors any defamatory comments and works both within and outside our campus community to ensure ALL of our members are supported and free to enjoy their university experience.
In this case, the UBS has risk assessed this visit and is putting in place appropriate measures. We are working with our Islamic Society who are confident that the subject matter of the speech sits within our Equality guidelines.
The UBS is committed to its core value of Equality and in supporting all our societies and members in their right to free speech, under both policy and law”.
What is interesting here is that UBS judges these events based on the subject matter, deciding that a talk on Aisha falls within its equality guidelines. It would be worrying of course if this topic didn't, but this misses the point somewhat, suggesting that any speaker, no matter how hateful, could speak on campus as long as their talk topic was innocuous enough.
We have also been passed a statement from the Islamic Society saying that:
“In light of recent events, Brunel ISOC would like to invite two representatives of all societies, faith groups and clubs to a public forum this Tuesday 27th November at 11:00 am in room 1A of the library. We wish to discuss issues concerning tolerance, religion, race, sexual orientation and how we as a society at Brunel University can live together in peace and harmony”.
This is an encouraging sign, and shows how peaceful protest can help societies realise the extent to which choice of speaker can upset fellow students and damage relationships on campus.
However, claims by the Islamic Society that “the allegations regarding Abu Usama are fallacious, and his words were taken out of context” does suggest that more work will be needed if they are to properly address the concerns of students angered at their decision to invite Thahabi.