Vote held to remove SU officer from meeting for ‘shaking her head aggressively’

In the same meeting she raised her hand, which also breaches safe space rules

EUSA Vice President of Academic Affairs Imogen Wilson was nearly thrown out of a student council meeting on Friday for raising her hand, and later for shaking her head.

Wilson raised her hand in disagreement during a debate, and she was told that this was a breach of safe space rules. A further complaint was submitted when she shook her head when another person was speaking – again, against safe space rules.

A vote took place to determine whether Wilson should be removed due to a breach of the rules.

The vote was in Wilson’s favour with only 18 people voting for her removal compared with 33 for her to stay.

The disagreement came about during one of the most tense council meetings of the year, with topics of debate including EUSA’s position on the EU referendum and whether it would be included in the BDS movement against Israel.

Ada Wells, who recently was recently investigated by EUSA for using an anti-Jewish slur on Twitter, was speaking when Ms Wilson shook her head, something Ada objected to.

They later had a spat on Facebook, with Ada saying: “My tone is confrontational because Imogen is confrontational, sharing anti-safe space articles and holding herself above and beyond the rules.”

Others disagreed, with one person saying the incident “had an element of bullying towards Imogen”, rather than promoting actual safe space concerns.

Student Association policy says that council members should be respectful and considerate.

Section 6C of the safe space policy is defined as: “Refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement or in any other way indicating disagreement with a point or points being made. Disagreements should only be evident through the normal course of debate.”

Wilson said:

“I totally do believe in safe space and the principles behind it, it’s supposed to enhance free speech and not shut it down, and give everyone a chance to feel like they can contribute.

“Safe space is essential for us to have a debate where everyone can speak, but it can’t become a tool for the hard left to use when they disagree with people.”

She said: “At that meeting we were discussing BDS, the movement to boycott Israel. I made a long and passionate speech against us subscribing to this, on the basis it encourages anti-Semitism on campus. It was only after I made that speech that someone made a safe space complaint. I can’t help but think it was a political move against me.

“Later on in the meeting, someone threatened me with a second complaint because I was shaking my head – but when I was addressing the room about my worries about Jewish students, there were plenty of people shaking their heads and nothing happened.”

She also added when asked that she felt that the vote should have been put to a campus-wide vote:

“I will add that I do think it should have been put to a student wide vote. Our referendum, which just passed, will mean that contentious issues go to a campus-wide ballot, and this motion certainly should have been voted on by as many students as possible.”