The e-mail below has been sent out by Massey University ahead of a feminist event to be held on their grounds called Feminism 2020. To their credit, they commit to freedom of speech, but they also smear the feminist group Speak Up 4 Women as “controversial” and spread the fake news that the group’s viewpoint is about taking away the human rights of transgender and intersex people. This is a disingenuous spin on the truth, as Speak Up 4 Women is about standing up for the rights of biological women that are being taken away by the Activist Trans lobby, who are determined to take over women’s ‘safe’ spaces.
In the past, Massey University has not been a free speech supporter, as its Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas cancelled ex-PM Don Brash’s speech to the Politics Society. Massey University at the time tried to claim that the cancellation had nothing to do with his views and was related to concerns about security, but documents released under the OIA showed that excuse to be a blatant lie.
It is great to see that they have now publicly committed to upholding free speech and allowing a diversity of viewpoints. Time will tell, however, if they are setting themselves up to be able to use the Heckler’s Veto (once again claiming security concerns) in order to deplatform Speak Up 4 Women in the near future.
Kia ora koutou
You may be aware of an upcoming November event called ‘Feminism 2020’ organised by a group called Speak Up 4 Women and using one of our Wellington campus venues.
We have had several complaints about this event and questions from media on why we have allowed the booking to go ahead, as this group holds controversial views on the rights of transgender and intersex people.
We would like to emphasise that the university strongly and openly stands with the sexual- and gender-diverse community, and safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is a top priority. We do not in any way share the views of the speakers of this event.
We will be donating the proceeds of the venue booking to a sexual- or gender-diverse group – suggestions are welcomed via our Facebook page.
We are currently placing signs, flags and posters around our campuses to show support for our community and we will be increasing this over the next few weeks so that our people are aware of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. The rainbow and transgender flags will fly prominently on campus wherever possible. We will be taking active steps to ensure that the participants of this event will have to arrive to a venue that is very clearly pro-rainbow, and that our staff and students experience our support.
In addition, we are looking at potential events to ensure the community is well supported by the university, and currently considering how we can better support our staff and students who belong to a sexual- or gender-diverse community. We stand with our people.
We are also proud to have the Rainbow Tick, which confirms our commitment to the rainbow community. We’re committed to equal opportunities for everyone. (You can find more information about how this applies practically on campus here).
We would like you to be aware that this event has a security plan and risk assessment and we are closely monitoring the situation in the event of any potential issues.
While we strongly support our community, we are also committed to free speech as a fundamental tenet of a university, and we recognise that free speech, academic freedom and freedom of expression are contentious and nuanced issues worldwide. We are currently working on a Freedom of Expression Policy as a public statement to reaffirm our commitment to free speech and academic freedom, and an External Speaker Code of Practice, to provide more guidance to speakers on our three campuses.
If you have concerns over the event, please feel free to email us.
Support is available from Student Services and the health and counselling centres on campus, and we encourage you to make use of this if you need (click here for more).
The Team at Massey University