79 students and alumni have signed a letter condemning Katie Hopkins’ appearance at Friday’s DebSoc event, saying that it represented the “apex” of racist incidents at the University.
The University has told Exeposé that they will respond to the letter.
According to the letter, Hopkins’ behaviour had made the University’s code of conduct and equality into “a farce”. Hopkins was asked to sign a document confirming her understanding of freedom of expression law.
The 79 signatories condemn, among other things, the unequal nature of the debate and the fact that other speakers had originally been communicated to the University, as well as a number of other issues.
The primary author of the letter, Neha Shaji, resigned from the Provost Commission over the event on Friday.
The controversial debate saw Katie Hopkins debate a panel otherwise made up of students on the motion “THW (This House Would) prioritise its own citizens over others”.
It provoked protests both outside the event and online.
The author alleges that “students cheered along to racist dog-whistles”. They also allege that Hopkins’ comments “included a statement about how Arabic sounds like ‘sneezing’, and to ‘send refugees back in their dinghies.’ ”
Staff have also spoken out about the event, with 57 members of staff signing a letter in support of the student protestors.
A University of Exeter spokesperson said:
“Professor Janice Kay has responded to the letter which raised further concerns about the recent student debate involving Katie Hopkins. The University’s leadership team did not invite Katie on to campus and had no legal grounds to stop the debate. We had no choice but to ensure students were safe on site and the speakers stayed within the law. We fully understand the concerns being raised about the nature of the debate, the impact on students and our progress in creating an inclusive community. This will all form part of our review and we welcome all contributions to make the necessary improvements.”