Written by Student Rights on 7 February 2014 at 12pm

Edinburgh students vote against motion opposing gender segregation

Students at the University of Edinburgh last night voted against a motion submitted to the Student Association calling for the university to:

Commit to disallowing imposed or directed segregation, based on any characteristic, in EUSA buildings or at EUSA events”.

The motion, available here, proposed to ask the National Union of Students and Universities UK to clarify their positions on the issue, and to:

Petition the University of Edinburgh to prohibit imposed or directed segregation in University of Edinburgh buildings or at University of Edinburgh events”.

It also quoted Student Rights’ May 2013 briefing ‘Unequal Opportunity: Gender Segregation on UK University Campuses’, which found that 46 events between March 2013 and March 2013 had “...either explicitly promoted segregation by gender, or implied this would be the case”.

The motion explicitly called for voluntary non-directed segregation to be permitted, something that organisations involved in the campaign against gender segregation including Student Rights have repeatedly supported.

The University of Edinburgh Humanist Society submitted the motion, and the group’s Treasurer Jonathan Ainslie is quoted by Ophelia Benson at Free Thought Blogs as saying:

The Humanist Society submitted a motion to Student Council – EUSA’s policy-setting body – for a ban on imposed or directed segregation on union premises, or at union events.

Voluntary segregation was explicitly permitted. The motion was entitled “Separate but Equal.”

That motion fell heavily, after a number of opposing speeches which either stated or implied that the society’s motivations were racist and Islamophobic.

That students at one of the UK’s leading universities have voted against challenging on-campus gender segregation is astonishing, and shows the extent to which some students are willing to suborn the rights of women in favour of religious intolerance.

H/T Ophelia Benson at Free Thought Blogs