Protestors confront Chancellor and Vice Chancellor during trans rights protest
The Chancellor defended the university’s decision
Hull University students have confronted the university Chancellor Baroness Bottomley, and Vice Chancellor Susan Lea about the Hull's decision to name a lecture theatre after Radio 4 presenter Jenni Murray.
Students gathered at the Larkin Building from 4.00pm after a protest was organised by HUU Women's Officer, Phoebe Bastiani.
Students eventually moved into the building to protest against the newly named "Jenni Murray DBE" lecture theatre, where they encountered the university grandees.
Speaking to the protestors, the Chancellor Baroness Bottomley stated that Mrs Murray is a brave and good woman who "has talked about things on Woman's Hour that women would never talk about, including breast cancer and lifted the taboo—she is a really modern woman".
She went on to say she is sorry that Mrs Murray "hasn't quite got to the place you want her to get" and that this is a "complex debate", but for the university to have one of their halls named after her "is a real honour."
She continued: "She was born in 1950, she wasn't born in 1990: things have changed. I don't think she is [transphobic] but I'm just telling you this is a fantastic woman."
One student argued that the university "wouldn't name a lecture theatre after someone who's homophobic so why name one after someone who's homophobic?" Baroness Bottomley replied that students had chosen the name—something the Tab Hull cannot find proof of and has reached out the the University Union about.
The University Vice Chancellor reiterated that "inclusion and diversity is really important to me."
Patrick John—the head of equality, diversity and inclusion at the university—stated that he believes Mrs Murray is not transphobic. “The reason she’s here is about women in leadership, about what she’s achieved and what she’s stood up for—she’s fought for gender equality and fought against racism”. He noted she has “made some comments, but you have to look at that in the broader context and she’s not transphobic”
When accused by students that the university should have been aware of the comments Mrs Murray has made, Mr John stated that the university "can't know everything". Protestors pointed out that the story of her comments is the second result that comes up on Google.
When Mrs Murray arrived, the protestors conducted their protest silently whilst the university took photos of her outside the lecture theatre, after which she went into Middleton Hall to speak in the university's "Women in Leadership" event.
HUU Women's Officer, Phoebe Bastiani told The Hull Tab she and HUU President Osaro Otobo will continue resisting the new lecture name and are hoping to organise a meeting with the Vice Chancellor this week.