A lesson on sex-segregation with more work to be done
- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On March 18, 2013
- 6 Comments
- Islamist, sex apartheid, UCL
UPDATE: Peter Tatchell just sent information on Islamists being blocked from meeting at East London University after protests; their meeting was meant to be segregated too. Read more here.
I had earlier reported on the sex segregation scandal at University College London (UCL) during a March 9 debate between atheist Lawrence Krauss and Islamist Hamza Andreas Tzortzis organised by the Islamic Education & Research Academy (a nice sounding front for Islamism).
UCL did quickly concede that sex segregation was contrary to its policies and banned IERA from holding future meetings on its premises.
This is in and of itself an important gain for those who are opposed to sex apartheid given that segregation of the sexes has happened at UCL before and that segregation at UCL is not an exception as reported by Student Rights.
In discussing the scandal, Lorraine Harding, a retired social policy academic, mentioned that even the police had been segregated at a meeting she attended in Bradford. She wrote on my Facebook page: “I went to an Islamic Society debate at Bradford University where gender segregation was enforced – even on the police officers present! – by young men. I complained to both the University and the Union but had no response.”
What’s clear as daylight – to me at least – is this: had the two male students not made a fuss about the segregation, the meeting would most likely have gone ahead as planned. It’s a lesson in how even one or two students can challenge Islamists on campus even when the University is complicit. And UCL is no exception. Whilst they have come out with a statement opposing sex segregation, there are still many questions about their complicity in this whole affair, namely via staff members (Dr Aisha Rahman and security staff) who enforced the segregation on the day. You can read more about it in a new statement issued by concerned students below:
The following is a statement from concerned students
Despite denial, UCL staff found to have actively enforced gender segregation.
Following the events of March 9th, UCL has denied that its members of staff were allowing the enforced gender segregation on attendees, and issued a statement that alleged that UCL had responded appropriately to warnings from student, putting measures in place that only failed to protect students because the organiser iERA acted in counter of them (see annex). New evidence has now emerged that UCL has neglected its duty of care towards students to an unprecedented amount, with UCL staff not only tolerating, but also actively enforcing gender segregation.
An individual who identified herself as “Dr Aisha Rahman”, who claimed that she was “teaching at UCL Chemistry” and that she had “booked the room on behalf of UCL Chemistry”, said the segregation had been agreed with the university and repeatedly refused two students, Christopher Roche and Adam Barnett access to the venue unless they complied with the segregated seating plan.
When confronted with the evidence that a UCL member of staff enforced, rather than opposed gender segregation, UCL Vice-Provost Rex Knight said: “Miss Rahman is a student at UCL, not a member of staff, and the booking for the event was made by her in a personal capacity, not as a representative of UCL. I note that you are seeking an apology and I suggest that you take that up with Miss Rahman; we are unable to assist you in that regard as Miss Rahman was not acting as an agent of UCL.”
However, contrary to Mr Knight’s statement, new evidence shows that Miss Rahman is indeed a member of staff of the UCL Chemistry Department and listed in the UCL staff directory, and not solely a student (see annex).
Christopher Roche, one of the affected students said: “There is a great deal of confusion as to who exactly Aisha Rahman is. Whilst she claimed to be an academic in the Department of Chemistry, I have been informed that senior management at the university deny both her qualifications and seniority. Given that Ms Rahman is indeed a member of staff, the claim that she is not an agent of UCL does not seem entirely credible. No matter what the truth is, Ms Rahman has used a stated position in the Department of Chemistry to organise and run a gender-segregated event at the university. I understand UCL’s desire to minimise their responsibility in this matter, but from the information I have been given, it appears that they need to urgently reconsider this position”.
The fact that UCL are denying their affiliation to Miss Rahman raises many questions, especially given that Miss Rahman is now using her affiliation with UCL to spread libellous information about complainants Christopher Roche and Adam Barnett (see annex).
On top of that, despite the assurances of UCL, UCL security staff did not only fail to protect attendees from enforced gender segregation, but several attendees who approached UCL’s security personnel to alert them to the situation were indeed instructed to comply with the organisers’ policy of segregation (see annex).
Chris Moos, a student who has been in correspondence with UCL, asked for reassurance that the university has made it clear to Miss Rahman and the security guards that this conduct is inappropriate and that an internal investigation is being conducted into their actions. In response to that, UCL Vice-Provost Rex Knight, denied any responsibility of UCL to give these concerns due consideration, stating that “as regards to your other points I believe that they are covered by our public statement, your discussion with Dr Siddall and my earlier response.”
Chris Moos said: “This response is highly surprising, as many questions remain unanswered: Has Ms Rahman acted in accordance or against the instructions of UCL? Has she abused her position of power within UCL, whether imaginary or real, to enforce gender segregation? How is it possible that Miss Rahman was able to book a lecture theatre for an organisation that holds views contrary to the ethos of UCL on behalf of the UCL Department of Chemistry? Why are the attempts of Miss Rahman to spread libellous information about the attendees of the event, using again her affiliation to the UCL Chemistry department to lend authority to her false account of the events not countered by UCL? UCL should do justice to the students who were affected by the failure of UCL to protect them and answer these questions.”
Halima, another student attendee said: “This issue is even more pressing as it is not an isolated case. Speakers that promote extremist views and create an intimidating atmosphere for student attendees speak regularly on campuses, including at UCL. There is a real need for UCL to address the problems we are raising, and these events have highlighted that UCL’s current procedures and security protocols are insufficient for dealing with these kinds of cases. UCL should thoroughly investigate the behaviour of its staff, retrain them if necessary and devise new procedures for making sure that all events at UCL are inclusive to all attendees.”
The students concluded: “We were seeking an apology from UCL for the way they failed to protect us from the enforcement of gender segregation. UCL should make it clear that their staff who were enforcing or tolerating segregation will be going through the appropriate disciplinary procedures. UCL should also provide the public and us with an answer to our questions, and not brush off the concerns that we are raising. It is surprising that UCL has not only neglected its duty of care towards students, but seems now unwilling to make sure that the events are investigated in a way that would prevent similar ordeals in the future.”
Link to Aisha Rahman’s entry in the UCL Staff Directory
Screenshots available upon request