UPDATE: Assange Cancelled
Union and CUSU release opposing statements, while a leaked email suggests there may be more than meets the eye…
The Union have expanded on their reasoning via their Facebook page, acknowledging suspicions of foul play regarding the cancellation, but denying anything untoward.
However, in an email which was supposed to stay within the society but was leaked to a Tab source, the debating society sounds less confident: “Sorry to bombard you with stuff – but what is our official line of elaboration on the technical issues?”
The Union’s official stance is that “We note the claim by Susy Langsdale, CUSU Women’s Officer, that this cancellation is due to a campaign opposing the event, however we would like to re-iterate that Mr Assange’s cancellation comes in light of the broadcaster cancelling, and is unrelated to the petition.
“It is unfortunate that these issues were discovered before the Union Society had the opportunity to fairly gauge members’ views through a Special Business Meeting, which was scheduled to be held this weekend, however the Women’s Campaign has withdrawn the requisition that was necessary to call this meeting. At the next opportunity, the Committee will be considering the possibility of holding a Special Business Meeting this term or next as chance to discuss No Platform policies. The question of rescheduling the event will wait until after this discussion.
“We hope recent events will encourage more member involvement and discussion about the principles for which the Union exists. We also hope that they will act as a catalyst for more widespread awareness and education about rape culture.”
Julian Assange’s appearance at the Union has been cancelled citing technical problems.
The news comes a week before the Wikileaks founder was scheduled to speak on Tuesday 27 November.
In an email, the Union’s Secretary, Suyin Chalmin-Pui, told members: “We would like to inform you that Mr Assange has cancelled the Q&A scheduled for 27th November due to technical issues with the video link equipment.”
A further statement on the Union’s Facebook page says: “Because the Embassy does not have a strong internet connection, the only way to produce the live 2-way video feed was by relying on broadcast vans. The broadcast agency scheduled to handle the feed is no longer able to, and no other broadcast agencies with the capability have the equipment available on the 27th.”
Since it was announced that Assange, who spoke at the Union in 2011, would be returning via video-link, there has been a backlash from many students, including the CUSU Women’s Campaign who produced a 944-name strong e-petition to disinvite Assange.
The announcement comes amidst controversy following the Union’s original rejection of the petition to stop Mr Assange speaking on the grounds that it was electronic. A special meeting to discuss this was due to take place this afternoon, with the petition thought likely to be accepted, leading to a Special Meeting to discuss the invitation in the next few days.
However, this now looks to be unecessary with Mr Assange’s cancellation.
CUSU’s Women’s Campaign expressed “delight that the Union has cancelled Julian Assange coming to speak” but suggested that the reasons may not be honest.
The statement continued “We are, however, particularly amused by their suggestion that the founder of Wikileaks had to cancel a week in advance for technical reasons.
“We are disappointed that the Union has not had the intellectual honesty to admit the real reasons for this disinvitation nor to respond directly to the 178 of their members who expressed concern at the Union’s failure to address the wider issues of rape culture.”