Ditch DSK! Cries CUSU Campaign

, News Editor


The Union are being urged to drop the term's highest-profile speaker in a petition led by the CUSU Women's Campaign.

The CUSU Women’s Campaign has called for Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be disinvited to the Union Society.

Strauss-Kahn is due to address the Society on March 9th, but the Women’s Campaign has urged the Union to withdraw the invitation in an online petition.

The former IMF head quit his position after a New York hotel maid accused him of rape 2011. He has been at the centre of a media frenzy for months and is currently being held by French police investigating a prostitution ring.

The Women’s Campaign accuses the Union committee of a “callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy.”

“The political decision to host DSK feeds an existent culture of silence and shame around rape, in which alleged perpetrators are given a platform mostly denied to survivors of sexual violence.”

“Free speech is about more than inviting rich, white, powerful (in this case allegedly rapist[sic]) men to define the Union’s termcard year after year.”

The petition has gathered over 240 signatures so far, including someone calling himself Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Union Society President Katie Lam told The Tab that “The Union stands for free speech and providing a neutral platform for it.

“Inviting any speaker doesn’t imply endorsement or indeed disapproval. The only criterion that we consider is whether a speaker will be interesting for our members or not.”

Asked about the claims that rich, white and powerful men consistently make up the Union termcard, Katie said that “the proportion of female speakers has more than doubled. This year is one of the highest proportions we’ve ever had.”

It’s not the first time The Union has faced a backlash for a controversial invitation. Tory Minister Eric Pickles received an angry welcome when anti-cuts protesters stormed the Union last year during his speech.

Have your say in our readers’ poll:

@hshukman
  • Wow

    The amount of rape apologism on this comment thread is truly frightening.

    The point about DSK having not been acquitted is that the 'innocent until proven guilty' principle becomes irrelevant – the point is that he has managed to evade trial despite the multiple allegations against him.

    Caring about the upholding the law is compatible with wanting the law to be implemented correctly. At present rape survivors frequently do not get the justice they deserve. 1 in 20 women will be raped whilst they are students, and as adults 25% of women are sexually assaulted. That's not to mention the smaller, but also significant, numbers of men who are raped or sexually assaulted. Despite these large statistics, most rapes go unreported, and of the rapes that are reported, only 6% end in conviction – a lower rate than for any other crime.

    This isn't just about the Women's Campaign, or about the Union. It's about the kind of university we want to be at. As a rape survivor, I don't want to be at a university where men against whom multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault have been made are invited to hold platforms at our most prestigious societies. The decision to host DSK feeds into a climate of silence and injustice around rape and sexual assault among the Cambridge student body. DSK gets to speak, but rape survivors and anti-rape campaigners do not. I would have hoped we were better than that.

    • Have to ask

      Clearly one in a million is one too many… but… there are too many statistics being bandied about here…

      1 in 20 women will be raped whilst they are students

      25% of women are sexually assaulted

      Source(s) of these figures are?

      • The Mouse

        I think the above comes from the NUS 'Hidden Marks' report.

        The other…there have been numerous studies but no specific study comes to mind.

    • Yeuch.

      "men against whom multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault have been made"

      Sorry: not good enough at all. This is not sufficient reason for anybody to be subject to a campaign of ostracism. Innocent until proven guilty is certainly not irrelevant.

    • Andrew

      So anyone who believes in basic principles of the Rule of Law and free speech is a rape apologist?

    • Not an Apologist

      Nobody's being a rape apologist, people are just objecting to 'no-smoke-without-fire' justice. The rape statistics you quote should be shocking to anyone, but the solution to the problem isn't to assume guilt when lacking in evidence. Innocent until proven guilty is a rule for a reason.

      I have every sympathy for you as a rape survivor, and am aware that I have no idea of how horrible it must have been, but I have a friend who is a rape-accusation survivor. He was eventually fully acquitted, but not before being taken to a prison cell and having his clothes taken for evidence, all the while being treated like utter scum by the police. He did nothing at all, evidence showed it, but based on the kind of argument you're suggesting, we should have already condemned him.

      I'm not saying DSK is innocent – I don't know, and neither do you. It seems likely that he's guilty, but it isn't our place to decide that.

      Further, I don't think moral failure (however extreme) should mean someone shouldn't be heard. If he has interesting things to say, he should be heard. That's what free speech is about. We have other ways of criticising his actions. It's not like this platform will be a treat for him, I imagine he'll be torn apart.

  • Johns

    Hopefully they will get off their periods in a week so this lame petition will die down

  • DC.

    This is a great idea, guys! Who needs "proof" to condemn a human for the rest of their lives for an alleged crime? That's a silly, outdated idea anyway! Much better to let the feminist movement decide who is a good person and who is not. Definitely fairer. We don't need to waste time or money on juries or justice that way! Just trust our Fearless Leaders! After all, everyone knows men are all evil, right? And obviously no woman would ever lie, that would be very unfeminine! No gender stereotypes in this movement, not at all!

    The platform on which you stand is a disgrace, and you are the enemies of justice, integrity, and liberty in our society. Each and every person with a name on this petition ought to be doing some serious soul-searching.

    • Andrew

      Very well said.

  • alex

    I don't get it. He was formally acquitted in a court of law.
    It sounds as though these people are biased

  • Oh yeah, free speech

    People who have committed crimes shouldn't be allowed to talk and be questioned, what is the union thinking?

    • will attenborough

      hang on – wasn't he acquitted of all charges?

      • Oh yeah, free speech

        Very possibly – all I mean is that even if he IS a criminal, that's not a reason to silence him.

        • Exaclty

          I'm pretty sure they had a convicted double murderer speaking at a debate in the last couple of years – Erwin James I believe his name was. Having been (a) convicted of (b) murder, he's more guilty than DSK in 2 respects, but there wasn't a problem with him speaking…

  • Ashamed

    This sort of idiocy just plays into the hands of poeple who see students as silly and unrealistic in thier views and not suitable to be listened to. If he has denied that he committed a crime and he has not been convicted, he is INNOCENT. Nobody should be marked for life based on a mere accusation. How would the CUSU women's officer like it if she was sacked and banned from Cambridge because I said she was a murderer but the case had been dropped because I was obviously unreliable.

  • Aunt Tam

    "The Cambridge Union Society's decision to invite Dominique Strauss-Kahn to speak this term displays, when interpreted most charitably, a callous desire to exploit gender crime allegations in the service of controversy. At worst, the invitation betrays an abhorrent disregard for the many survivors of sexual violence amongst the student body."

    So exploiting gender crime allegations in the service of controversy is worse than disregarding survivors of sexual violence? That seems a little twisted. One is negligence, one is willful immorality.

    Also, given the fact that the union invited him before these allegations were made, the 'most charitable' interpretation seems pretty uncharitable. Bordering, in fact, on the incredibly offensive.

    It must be nice for the women's campaign to carelessly throw around accusations like that, without stopping to consider the impact they might have on the union members involved. Who (I can't be bothered to check this) I believe are mostly women themselves. UNCLE TOMS.

  • Average student

    Who are CUSU anyway?

  • CUSU?

    wait, CUSU has a womens officers?

  • Disaffiliate

    CUSU are an absolute waste of time

  • Logically

    Its such a shame that the trots and feminazis at CUSU only believe in free speech when people sing from their hymn sheet. I despair that one of the great universities of the world has such a bunch of introvert, self centered disconnected people in its student union. One of the things I hope to remember as my time at Cambridge comes to a close is that the Union always pushed the boundaries and did the very best for debate and discussion giving students a chance to meet the widest range of speakers. I have no doubt that if CUSU had its way the union would be limited to Harriet Harman and representatives from the occupy movement each indulging in more self congratulation about how left wing and supposedly progressive they are. Why doesn't the womens officer spend more time dealing with these issues rather than trying to get her name in the paper? Go occupy my arse crack

    • You, my friend

      are a genius. You've just summed up my thoughts perfectly.

    • Public School Boy

      "Why doesn't the womens officer spend more time dealing with these issues rather than trying to get her name in the paper?"

      She got her name in TCS this week. They even spelled it correctly. Big things happening!

      • you what?

        wait, people read TCS?

  • confused

    women have rights?

  • Love TAB! Love TCS?

    Have you seen the message one angry TCS reader on their facebook group with a link about their coverage of the story?
    http://www.facebook.com/TheCambridgeStudent

  • Conspiracy

    Check out the Varsity editorial today…
    http://archive.varsity.co.uk/756.pdf

    "This week, media attention homed in on two stories first covered by Varsity this week…"

    Is it me? or has all of a sudden – http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/4456 now got a new time stamp of 11pm on 21st feb. (Yet no comments until 4.15pm 22 Feb)

    If I recall correctly didn't The Tab beat Varsity to it?

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