CONTENT WARNING: discussion of rape, racism, abuse and use of swear words.
What I just said. You all know who I am. It’s Ellie fucking BW, you got me.
One of the main reasons I wanted to make the big, shocking reveal is so I can talk personally about tonight’s Sabb debates. I thought so many of the candidates did incredibly well under that pressure, and really stuck up for themselves and their policies (shout outs to Faatima). However, it was also full of a lot of vile bullshit.
I’m sure most of you who would read this blog would have been there tonight, and would have seen my question to Tom Kerr. For those of you who weren’t, I asked a question to Kerr, a candidate for VPAA, about him allowing a member of the DKE frat on his campaign team, a frat who threatened FemSoc with rape, and referred to a member of their frat who came forward about their behaviour as a ‘sneaky Mexican fuck’. Furthermore, I was shocked that he thought it was appropriate to bring this man into a room including women that the threats were made against. I was also told that he was pro-life, and asked him how he would reconcile holding these views and representing all women students on campus, and he denied this saying he ‘doesn’t have an opinion’ on either side of the debate. That seems like a cop out answer to me.
So, I popped the question, to the applause and support of much of the audience (as I was asking questions that I know many women in the audience also wanted to ask). He answered with what I feel was a mediocre response, saying that I couldn’t paint all of the frat members with the same brush, and the answer to the pro-life question that I previously mentioned. To be honest, I think it makes a lot of sense to distrust and link all members of a frat that sent threats of rape and used racist language to this behaviour. Were they still members when these complaints were made? If so, then I have every right to link them to this awful behaviour and hold them accountable for it.
Anyway, I was very shaken and incredibly nervous about asking the question, as I knew I would be met with hostility and poopy tweets. The actual response, however, was genuinely shocking. I listened to Kerr’s answer, disliked it, then went to the bar to get a drink. As I was walking out, a member of said frat at the back of the room and members of the Diagnostics society, jeered me, shouting “shame, shame” at me. A few of the members of the audience realised, including members of Fresh Air, who tweeted about it and were shocked. I found out after the debate that these same people attacked Faatima, candidate for President and only BME candidate for this role, when she defended accusations of racism hurled at her. This behaviour breaks safe space, something that EUSA venues are meant to uphold and enforce. I felt unsafe and worried about verbal attack or worse.
Their behaviour prompted complaints from other audience members with them asking the producers of the debate to remove them as they were making people feel unsafe. They were asked to do so, yet refused, literally shouting in the face of the person who asked them to leave. Thus, they remained throughout, making me at least feel incredibly unsafe and paranoid, and meant that they were able to continue shouting “shame” at Faatima. They also squared up to a member of the audience after the debate when that person did not want to have a conversation with them.
This night was awful, but incomparable to the debate on freedom of speech held by Sp!ked last night. Last night, me and other survivors of abuse, were told to “grow up” and get used to sexist and abusive behaviour on campus, and that our desire for safe spaces and trigger warnings was paternalistic and akin to fascism.
The behaviour of the DKE frat member and the Diagnostics society at the debate tonight is a case in point. I know for a fact that I was not the only person in the audience who felt unsafe and scared. I know for a fact that mine and others’ safe space was broken. I need safe spaces so that I am protected from such vile behaviour. Protected from men like them who literally threatened to rape me and other women on the same committee as I. It is not something to joke about and belittle because you’re a bit upset you’re not allowed to come to women only spaces, or BME only spaces, or trans only spaces, or LGBT+ spaces, or disabled only spaces.
Your vague offence does not equal or even come close to my physical disgust, and shaking, and paranoia, and desire to leave and cry. Do not patronise me. Do not accuse me of paternalism when you tell me what I can and cannot be offended and triggered about.
So much solidarity to all the people affected by these vile people tonight, and so much love to all those who sent me messages of support and encouragement, people who didn’t even know me. Also hugs to all the women who were thinking what I asked. It was vital that we asked those questions and challenged those views. Progression and ending bigotry does not come from allowing the bigots to silence us, or pressure us into a corner. Our voices and opinions are valid and powerful.
Thank you for reading, if you did. From now on this blog will be more radge. I’m done playing mister nice guy.