University equality lectures ban straight white men

A lecture series on equality, run by the Universities and College Union (UCU) have banned straight, white, able-bodied males from attending.

The UCU decided at a conference in Liverpool last week that people who don't identify according to the topic being discussed would not be allowed to attend the lecture in question.

The lecture series, to take place later this year, will cover ethnic, disabled, LGBT and female fights for equality.

People who do not fit into these categories will not be allowed to attend the event, even if they strongly believe in equality for all.

The lectures, for UCU elected members, will focus on equality issues in the workplace, and the challenges minorities face in universities and colleges.

One UCU member was shocked that white, straight able-bodied men were miffed about not being able to attend the events.

Safe space

Organisers of the event said they wanted to ensure that a safe space is preserved during the lectures, and so anyone wishing to attend the lectures must demonstrate their "protected characteristics".

This means that straight, white men with no disability will be unable to attend any of the lectures on equality, as they don't fit into any of these categories.

A spokesman for the University and College Union explained to

"Members voted to continue the convention whereby different groups meet at a conference to discuss the unique obstacles they face in the workplace."

"This is standard practice throughout the trade union movement and certainly not a new initiative."

"This year those conferences take place on the same day at the same venue. There also plenary sessions and workshops, which anyone can attend – despite some press reports suggesting otherwise."

"There is also a UCU equality reps conference on a separate date that anyone interested in equality can attend."

The move has been condemned by a lot of people on twitter.

Strongly condemned

Emma-Jane Phillips, who serves on UCU’s disabled members’ committee, strongly condemned the move to exclude people from the lectures.

“Equality reps are passionate about equality regardless of their own situation,” she told Times Higher Education.

“To infer that someone does not understand someone’s situation just because you don’t tick a box is insulting.”

She said told Times Higher Education that many members would be forced to lie about having a protected characteristic, in order to attend the event.

One commenter said they thought the event was wrong to exclude men, especially if it is men's attitudes that they wish to change:

"They are removing from the debate those who opinions should matter most to them. I don't mean this as though straight white men's opinions are inherently more important. But if they want change then straight white men's views and opinions should really be their target demographic."

"If there is a problem with sexism for example then it wouldn't be a woman's issue, it would be a men's issue as the need to inform. Debate and change attitudes would need to directed towards men."

"This diversity experiment will not work if diversity starts to mean division, with everyone picking their own side. Change happens by people backing people outside of their own narrow niche."

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