Stu­dents turn their back on con­tro­ver­sial colum­nist

‘In­ap­pro­pri­ate’ guest for cel­e­bra­tion

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Clemen­tine

BRUNEL Univer­sity stu­dents de­liv­ered a pub­lic snub to Katie Hop­kins by walk­ing out of a lec­ture the out­spo­ken TV pun­dit was due to de­liver.

The for­mer Ap­pren­tice star was in­vited to a de­bate on wel­fare at Brunel’s Uxbridge cam­pus, dur­ing which a group of stu­dents got up and turned their back on her and then walked out in si­lence.

The protest was or­gan­ised by stu­dents union pres­i­dent Ali Mi­lani who said he was sur­prised by the me­dia storm the stunt pro­voked.

Katie Hop­kins used her col­umn in a na­tional news­pa­per to slate aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions as telling stu­dents not “how to think, but what to think.”

She wrote: “A ter­ri­fy­ing num­ber con­form to one way of think­ing.

“Not only do they de­mand that you com­ply with their view, but seek to de­ride and de-le­git­imise any­one with an al­ter­na­tive opin­ion.

“I am so used to stu­dents try­ing to dis­credit me with la­bels, I even sent Brunel a list in ad­vance, spell­ing them in the way those ill-ed­u­cated by re­al­ity might choose to do.”

Hop­kins tweeted an im­age of a list of la­bels Brunel stu­dents could “stick on her” such as ‘racist’ and ‘bigot’.

She ac­cused Mr Mi­lani and the Brunel stu­dents union of sti­fling free speech over a leaked email, which she said warned stu­dents against speak­ing to the press af­ter the sud­den me­dia in­ter­est.

Mr Mi­lani con­firmed the leaked email was an in­ter­nal email sent out to the Union’s ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers and staff mem­bers, not all

to stu­dents. He added: “Ob­vi­ously, within the or­gan­i­sa­tion, we need to speak as one voice.

“That was sent to staff so we don’t have six or seven mes­sages com­ing out of the same or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“In a per­sonal ca­pac­ity, any­one can say what they want but in the or­gan­i­sa­tion we need to speak in one voice.

“We al­ways ex­pected Katie to go down the free speech route, but it’s really weak. She’s ped­alling an ar­gu­ment that doesn’t ex­ist.”

Hop­kins also ac­cused stu­dents of ‘white­s­plain­ing’ by pre­vi­ously at­tend­ing lec­tures by so-called ‘hatepreach­ers’ Uth­man La­teef and Doc­tor Fikry.

Mr Mi­lani con­firmed that the Uth­man La­teef lec­ture did not go ahead and stu­dents spoke out against Doc­tor Fikry.

He said: “Stu­dents protested that as well, they just protested it in a dif­fer­ent way.”

Kirsty Capes, a PHD cre­ative writ­ing stu­dent who joined the protest, said: “I found it highly in­ap­pro­pri­ate that the Univer­sity chose to in­vite some­one who has said such of­fen­sive things re­gard­ing class, race, re­li­gion and women, to an an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion.

“In Brunel’s 50th year we ought to be show­cas­ing our rich di­ver­sity and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, and peo­ple like Katie Hop­kins are the ab­so­lute an­tithe­sis of that ethos.”

n PROTEST: Stu­dents walk out of a lec­ture due to be given by colum­nist Katie Hop­kins, above

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