St Edmund Hall is one of the latest Oxford colleges to pass a motion condemning the Oxford Union’s decision to host gender critical feminist, Kathleen Stock.
The college joined a growing number of others, including Mansfield, Christ Church, St Anne’s and St Hilda’s, when their JCR passed a motion on Monday night condemning the Union’s decision. Other colleges, such as Hertford, are proposing similar motions in upcoming JCR meetings.
Like other JCR motions, Teddy Hall’s motion resolved to “condemn the Union for platforming Kathleen Stock and call on her invite to be rescinded in support of the trans community”. The Teddy JCR will also reaffirm their support of the trans community and release a public statement written by their LGBTQ+ rep.
Harry Mcwilliam, proposer of the Teddy Hall motion, told Cherwell: “JCRs passing these motions shows that Oxford colleges support trans people, we hope that the union rescinds its invitation, as was said in the official campaign […] statement. The statements already made stand for themselves, and the motions passed by JCRs reflect these sentiments.”
Other colleges’ motions include similar statements of solidarity, with many re-iterating that “the rights of minority groups should never be up for debate,” and that transphobia should not be welcomed by the Oxford community. A motion from St Anne’s further claimed: “The Union has made the choice to amplify a voice that actively harms trans students, trans people and the trans community at large.”
The Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society told Cherwell it is “fully supportive of the[se] efforts … against the union platforming of Stock and in support of those who have suffered abuse as a result of her visit, some of which are our committee members”. The Society encourages all Oxford colleges to follow suit. They are in contact with all the common rooms across the university and have issued a statement which underscores the need for collective action against the Union’s invitation.
Alfie Davis, the OULGBTQ+ Society’s Welfare Secretary and an officer on for the SU LGBTQ+ Campaign, told Cherwell: “Every day, an ongoing choice is made by the President and Librarian of the union to not disinvite Stock, and they must be held accountable for the consequences of spreading her misinformation and hatred.
“Despite promises from senior union officials in our JCR meeting, the union is yet to reach out to the community in any way to condemn the hatred and violent threats we, and I myself, have received online as a result of speaking out. We were promised that a statement would be released last Sunday – a week has passed, and nothing. Either the union is completely disorganised, or they simply do not care enough to put out the presumably empty words of condemnation they assured us were coming.”
The Oxford Union released a statement Monday night after consultation from the Standing and Access Committees. In it the Union stresses that this event will “question and challenge” Kathleen Stock, as “any member who asks a question will have an opportunity to ask a follow up question. This format is designed to uphold the Union’s founding principle of freedom of expression for both our members and our guest speakers.”
Due to the sensitive nature of content discussed in this event, the Union will also provide “additional welfare resources available on the evening.” The Union concluded their statement by reiterating their commitment to civil discussion: “free speech is a two way street and we respect the right to speech of those who disagree with our hosting of the event and condemn the doxxing and harassment that some of them have faced.”
Alfie reiterated that trans rights are “far from a trivial issue, and as a community, we’re tired of having to fight and argue for our right to exist. We’re tired of the union platforming divisive speakers to generate controversy, and we’re tired of their refusal to listen to the communities they hurt by doing so.” Co-chair of LGBT campaign Bella Done told Cherwell: “I’m glad JCRs are proposing motions as the co-chair of the LGBT campaign.” Regarding the JCR motions, Alfie told Cherwell: “This is vital grassroots support and solidarity, and is more important than ever, so I’d encourage anyone reading this to show up vocally in support of the community!”
This article was updated at 22:50 on 08/05/2023 to include updated Oxford Union comment.