Written by Student Rights on 1 May 2013 at 4pm

Gender segregation advertised by Islamic Society at Northampton University

Following the news that an event at University College London (UCL) had featured attempts to segregate attendees by gender, the issue has become the focus of media attention.

On 15 April it was reported that an event held at the University of Leicester had included separate entrances for men and women, leading to an investigation by the university.  

Here at Student Rights we wrote at the time that this was not an uncommon practice, and this is highlighted by two events held at the University of Northampton in the past two weeks.

Part of a series of events entitled ‘The Six Elements of Faith’, the first event took place on the 23rd April, with the second following last night.

Promoted by the Islamic Society via Facebook, both events were accompanied by a sentence which stated “Open to both Brothers and Sisters, with segregation adhered-to”.

We have asked the Islamic Society for a statement explaining this, but are yet to receive a response.

Should individual students choose to segregate themselves by gender then that is their business, but an affiliated Student Union society should not be enforcing this segregation.

Doing so treats women as second class citizens, with many segregated events seen by Student Rights placing women at the back of the lecture hall, or in the most extreme cases, in a separate room.

Point 1.1 of the university’s Equality and Diversity Policy Statement states that:

The University of Northampton (The University) is committed to treating all members of staff, students and applicants fairly and equitably regardless of race, colour, ethnic or national origin, gender...The University will ensure that no unjustifiable requirements or conditions are imposed that could disadvantage individuals on any of the above grounds.

By allowing the Islamic Society to segregate event attendees on the grounds of their gender they are breaching the most basic tenet of this policy.

Here at Student Rights we have written to the university to ask that they investigate this incident, and hope that this will be discussed with the Islamic Society prior to any future events.