Schools Training

Gender-divided events divide students

6 FEB 2014

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Students elected to represent women and diversity issues are divided about whether gender-segregated events should be allowed on campus, aTimes Higher Education survey suggests.

Asked if they would support student societies asking for segregation based on a variety of factors, including gender, less than half of the 17 respondents said that such requests should always be refused.

The issue came to the fore recently when Universities UK published advice suggesting that a religious speaker’s freedom of expression might be infringed if a request for gender segregation were not accommodated.

Some respondents to the THE survey expressed concern that criticism of gender segregation could be oppressive to minority groups.

Joe Killen, welfare and diversity officer at the students’ union for Goldsmiths, University of London, cited segregation’s importance in political movements. “It would be inappropriate of us to say that our students do not have the right to draw the parameters of the spaces they need,” he said. “Further, it is dangerous to civil liberties in the UK to deny right to assembly for certain campus groups based on their members’ shared minority status.”

Replying to the survey on behalf of the women’s officer at King’s College London Students’ Union, Shaheen Sattar, a National Union of Students delegate, said the “stench of Islamophobia” had been “masked with feminism” in politicians’ criticisms of gender segregation.

 

Read full article: Times Higher Education