Pleasingly, Friday’s post about the (further) goings on at LSE got lots of attention – it seems like we’ve now got a climate where if British student unions do things like this, word goes out. Whatever else happens, that’s encouraging.
Also encouraging is the ASH society’s response to the union, which went public this morning. Some people seemed worried the ‘Request denied’ message would be the end of this, but they’re fighting it. (And everyone knows I love a good fight.)
Some extracts from the statement they’ve released, addressing the union:
We [.] appreciate your concern about the safety of ex-Muslims, but disagree with your contention that adding ‘ex-Muslim’ to our name would in fact create an unsafe space for ex-Muslim students… The risk of danger that ex-Muslims face in many places does not exist on our safe, quite secure and liberal campus.
If we were to follow this line of thought, we should also do away with the LGBT Society and LGBT events, since they also face danger from extremists[.]
On a related note, we would like to point out that the situation of LGBT people in many countries is quite similar to that of ex-Muslims, in that they also face persecution and lack support options, and we seek a safe space for ex-Muslims for similar reasons.
Our idea has already received the endorsement of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and the London Ex-Muslim Collaboration, whose calls for greater attention to the ex-Muslim plight are corroborated by reams of empirical and anecdotal evidence that document the unrivalled alienation, estrangement and despair that define the ex-Muslim experience.
With regard to your proposal to change our name to substitute this change for “ex-religious”, we feel that this would defy the purpose of the name change… Our name already implies ex-religious, and the case for ex-Muslims is a separate one entirely [because] ex-Muslims are a specific group with different needs to other ex-religious people due to their unique situation[.]
According to bye-law 4 of the LSESU, the purpose of the SU Activities Committee is:
“27.1 Consider proposals for new Societies, Clubs or Media Group Societies
27.2 Consider applications for Associate Memberships
27.3 Act as a focus group reporting to the Activities and Development Officer to discuss and comment on specific Society, Media Group Athletic Union and Club budgets before they are sent to the Activities Assembly.”
Therefore, contrary to your response, we feel that it is not within the remit of the SU or of the SU Activities Committee to approve [or prevent] name changes of existing LSESU societies, as long as they are not harmful.
Article 7 of bye-law 4 states that the core objectives of the SU will not be “interpreted so as to preclude the establishment of political, religious or ethnically based societies”. Ex-Muslims fall into more than one of those categories.
If you disagree with our position please point us to the relevant bye-laws. Should we not receive a reply by by Friday November 2nd, we will assume that the SU does indeed accept our position.
Read the whole thing. If I were LSESU, I’d back down now.