CW: rape, homophobia, racism.
What is happening this year?
Defaced posters all round, and absolute bigotry.
Whoever you’re supporting, or against, or if you’re not supporting anyone at all, it is unacceptable to slander them and direct abusive language towards them or use aspects of their identity to debase them, especially when those aspects place them firmly in already marginalized groups.
So far we have had Faatima’s posters ripped down around Teviot and a petition launched against her – doesn’t seem like it could just be a coincidence, following the last week’s “controversies” around her. We have also had homophobic abuse directed at Theo, with students literally saying they wouldn’t vote for him because he’s gay. We have had members of frats who threatened to rape women allowed on campaign teams, and safe space being mightily broken. This behavior is astoundingly bad. I predicted this year would be more brutal than last, but this is just hatred and bigotry.
This isn’t even about factionalism anymore. The people who are showing this behaviour are people who have never really been involved in EUSA before, or at least not in the Trot/NOLS faction war; the most that’s going on between the actual factions are a few half-hearted or jokey remarks passed between hacks on Twitter or on here. Saying you will not vote for someone because of their sexual orientation is homophobia at work, it is the kind of mentality that means there are only a small amount of people who define as LGBTQIA in government. Calling a woman of colour racist shrouds the problem at hand and discourages others from running in case they get the same flack as her. And guess what that leads to? People of colour being further discouraged to engage fearing that if they do they will be met with attack.
I am actually amazed at all of this. And how in the first three days of campaigning we have seen blatant racism, sexism and homophobia at work. I admire the dedication of candidates who are still going out there and wanting to engage “real students” and get people who aren’t usually interested or confident in EUSA to change their minds. The behaviour of so many “real students” that has occurred recently really is just hate, and not a hate for EUSA. Attempts to engage and reach out and welcome in have been met with aggression and ignorance.
I have never known this amount of bigoted abuse suffered by other candidates before (maybe because we’ve had a long history of white straight men running and being elected until last year’s sabbs). I’ve heard it during their terms, when they are put on a pedestal and constantly shat upon simultaneously, expected to meet every single demand immediately or be no-conned, as apparently that’s what you should expect in this line of work. But the abuse has started early this year. And it has been so personal and targeted it hardly seems like political disagreement anymore but rather bigotry.
These events have nothing to do with disillusion with EUSA but with abuse targeted towards the more vulnerable in society, and a reaction to them going out and asking for support and solidarity. It seems like an attack on their “audacity” to ask for better and strive to help.
So much solidarity to Faatima and Theo and anyone who has suffered this and past campaigns too. We are trying to make this campus a more tolerant and safer place, and we will get there, I promise.