UNION VOTE: Assange WILL speak at Union after tense debate and withering comments from Wikileaks supporters
The lines are closed, the votes are counted
After a tussle involving everyone from CUSU to Wikileaks, Julian Assange will be speaking at the Cambridge Union Society after an overwhelming majority voted “yes” in today’s referendum.
The results came in at 10.00pm after a 24 hour period of voting, with a whopping 76.9% answering “aye” to the question “do you agree that the Cambridge Union should host Julian Assange via videolink on November 11th at 7pm?”
With a record-breaking voter turnout of 1463 paid members participating, and clear result, The Tab can reveal Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, will be speaking to the Cambridge Union Society via video link on November 11th at 7pm.
The renegade Australian was accused of sexual assault in 2010, however he has resisted extradition to Sweden by camping out in the Ecuadorian embassy, and the charges remain unproven.
Union President, Oliver Mosley, declared “the voice of our membership has rung out clearly”, adding that “the Union will ensure that it can act as a platform for those that wish to criticise or question, as has been the case so many times in the past.”
The result follows a uni-wide debate about free speech and platforming stirred up by CUSU over the last few weeks, who say that allowing Assange to speak is oppressive.
CUSU has attacked the referendum, with Charlotte Chorley, the Women’s Officer, publishing a scathing article in Huffington Post. Refusing to sully themselves by attending the debate, they sent a statement of abstention. She says that the Union has “skewed priorities which have, for years, alienated women and minorities”.
On Wednesday the Union hosted a tense debate, asking the press to only refer to speakers by their first names: Kate, Elinor, Tom and James.
Speakers were passionate, with James arguing that the “culture of intimidation and silencing” had led to people not wanting to speak at all.
Elinor criticised Assange for not cooperating with the authorities, arguing that his resistance to arrest had robbed his victims of their freedom of speech – linking to a “victim blaming culture”.
CUSU’s statement was read out – in which they said they were “let down by this institution” and that inviting Assange “is a sign of weakness”; they claimed the decision “has alienated women and minorities”. They argue that this is “not a referendum on Assange” – but on the Union itself.
However, most students didn’t seem to have much to say about the affair. Tab TV interviewed a number of students about Assange, and a worrying number of people didn’t even know what was going on…
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Wikileaks subsequently shared the link to its thousands of followers – who slated Cambridge students for their weak-minded ignorance.