RHUL SU cancel Katie Hopkins debating society talk for ‘safety’ reasons

A letter from eight societies asked for the invitation to be revoked


The SU has made the decision to cancel the RHUL Debating Society's event with Katie Hopkins due to 'safety' concerns.

The decision came after an open letter signed by eight different societies called for the Debating Society to "withdraw their invitation for Katie Hopkins to speak at Royal Holloway."

After the letter was released the Debating Society defended the event, saying: "We, as a society, do not endorse any political belief, any party stand point or any ideological standpoint apart from the freedom to debate.

"Given our autonomy from SU, we, as a society, may invite speakers whose view do not represent those of the University or the SU. These events and speakers are not endorsed by the Royal Holloway University or the SU. Thank you, and we hope to see you at our debate next week!"

An hour later the event was cancelled by Royal Holloway SU. They released a statement saying it was due to safety reasons, rather than freedom of speech. RHUL SU said: "All events must go through a thorough risk assessment with the student group, and no events take place without the possibility of conditions being imposed – for example security at the event itself, the creation of a designated protest zone, the requirement for an alternative perspective in any debate, or monitoring of the event to ensure all attendees are safe."

Within the statement SU President Jack O'Niell comments: "The views of Katie Hopkins are at odds with the values held by the Officer Team and the Students’ Union and we would never personally invite her onto campus ourselves."

The open letter calling for Katie Hopkins to have her invite revoked was signed by the Labour Society, Climate Action, Amnesty Society, Left Forum, Feminism Society, Jewish Society, African-Caribbean Society and Women of Colour Collective. The Royal Holloway Tab contacted these societies to understand why they chose to sign the letter.

The Women of Colour Collective told The Royal Holloway Tab: "Katie Hopkins coming to the University promotes the idea that is acceptable to give a person who has literally created her name by being one of the biggest bigots in the county, a platform. To give her space, time, energy and money sets a dangerous precedent through the university and this does not align with the beliefs that we as a collective strive to spread and uphold."

Labour society were also opposed to the visit, saying: "There is no prospect for debate against an individual such as Katie Hopkins as her views are simply hate-fuelled and divisive. The university has a responsibility to uphold the safety and welfare of its students, and inviting someone who is openly Islamophobic, racist and homophobic directly undermines this."

Amnesty International, who also signed the letter, said: "We decided to support the letter uninviting Katie Hopkins to the university as we believe she only means to divide us. We do not condone the platforming of a racist extremist."

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