Sexist or sane? Sneade Speaks
The Tab talks to controversial election candidate, Kirk Sneade.
Kirk Sneade, infamy within a few days, sparking an unprecedented wave of controversy and debate within this maddening sphere we call ‘Election Fortnight’. With voting opening yesterday, it transpired that all self-defining women can indeed, vote for Kirk. The entire situation has presented a number of complex issues, not only about the integrity and intentions of an individual, but also about the integrity and intentions of the union. Following the initial release of offensive material, the consequent onslaught from the UCLU Women’s Network and Kirk’s defense statement, the Sneade-ists have people questioning whether the very nature of his campaign is demeaning to the role women should play in our university, or whether he is making a valid point. The Tab spoke to Kirk Sneade about these recent developments.
So the aim of your campaign is to ridicule the new positions introduced by the union. Why do you think having a Women’s Officer is particularly unnecessary?
The campaign started as a joke in which I played no real role, save my name being used for candidacy. The application, manifesto and subsequent material related to the campaign were not of my doing. I only discovered that I had been nominated thanks to an email received on the 21st of February. I did not want to run for any position and was blissfully unaware until this moment. I did not attend the first required meeting and I believed that this would lead to my name being removed from the list of candidates, however this was not the case. From here I was personally attacked by supporters of the opposition. It was at this point that I decided to take the candidacy seriously and to run for the position. Subsequently I retracted anything which had been written or posted as a joke/to cause shock, as I did not want these affiliated with what is now a serious campaign.
The aim of the campaign now is certainly not to ridicule the new position, but rather to highlight the glaring problems with the union. These flaws are: The student union does not represent the vast majority of students, rather it represents a small minority of highly politicised students (as reflected by the voting turnout). I feel that my campaign, albeit perceived as controversial, has done vastly more to get students involved and interested in UCLU’s politics than any other campaign, past or present.
… the creation of new positions, such as that of women’s officer, is something that will further divide the students rather than unite them.
The creation of new sabbatical officer posts seems to me nothing more than a further drain on UCLU’s tight budget. There is no doubt that a vast majority of UCL’s students, who the body claims to represent, would prefer for these funds (which I have been told) total roughly £40,000 net cost per position, to be allocated elsewhere. This is not to undermine or belittle the need to protect and maintain equality amongst the students as I do feel this is of great importance. However, the creation of new positions, such as that of women’s officer, is something that will further divide the students rather than unite them. Regrettably, we cannot afford to create a new position for every perceived minority group and therefore it would seem advisable to promote a position that safeguards equality of all students irrespective, of race, sexuality, religion or gender.
Has the whole situation made you question whether you are actually a misogynist?
This campaign has made me question many things. The process of voting, the applicants, the candidates, the student body, the student union, but it has certainly never made me question whether I’m a misogynist. I do not differentiate between people for their gender, their race, their sexual preference, their political stance. People are individuals and should be treated as such.
What would you say to the UCLU Women’s Network?
In spite of the incredibly derisive and personally insulting comments I have received from a number of them, I would ask them to respect my candidacy in the same way that I have respected the fellow candidates. Ultimately we are all working towards a greater good, equality for all, albeit through slightly different means.
You essentially managed to make racist, homophobic and sexist comments to an extremely politically correct student body. At which point did you think this was a good idea?
As first described, none of the comments actually came from myself. I would like to make people aware that I passionately disagree with the sentiment of anything which may have caused offence. The only thing I can say for this, is that the shock caused by it has at the very least got people talking about student politics. I would also perhaps like to question that because of the initially sexist nature of the campaign, of which I was not in charge, why I have now been labelled a racist, homophobe and misogynist.
What’s your opinion on the UCLU elections and student politics in general?
Even the most staunch anti-Sneade cannot argue that my campaign has not increased the interest of the average student.
Generally student politics only reflect the views of a small minority of highly politicised students, who represent only the polarised fringes of students and politics, rather than the general student populous. The low turnout and low voting numbers reflects the desperate need for increased student interest in student politics. Even the most staunch anti-Sneade cannot argue that my campaign has not increased the interest of the average student.
Opposition candidate, Helen Chandler-Wilde, gave us her opinion on Kirk and why she thinks the union have dealt with the situation badly; “His initial comments are completely against my personal beliefs; even if he thinks those things can be said lightly, it is wrong to make jokes which are that ignorant of liberation movements. However, that is my personal belief, and it was absolutely not in Sam Gaus’s power to not publish his manifesto. Had it been published then everyone could have quickly realised he’s an idiot. Censoring his freedom of expression made this into a much bigger deal than it ever should have been. Furthermore, Sam Gaus should remain impartial to ensure a fair contest between candidates. Otherwise it’s simply not democracy.”