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FemSoc to vote on removal of Kirsty Haigh

ByIlinca Barsan

Oct 7, 2014

The University of Edinburgh Feminist Society (FemSoc) will hold an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) on October 26 to discuss the future of Kirsty Haigh, committee member of FemSoc and former Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) Vice President Services.

The Facebook event for the EGM states that FemSoc have received several safe space complaints regarding Haigh’s behaviour.

As Haigh sits on the FemSoc committee as an Ordinary Member, whether or not she will be removed from the society has to be decided in an EGM.

A private petition of 20 signatures will be have to be confirmed by two committee members as well as welfare and accessibility officer Lorin Murray-Campbell.

Speeches will be made on behalf of the party who launched the safe space complaints. Haigh will also have the opportunity to defend herself against the complaints raised.

Two votes will decide whether Haigh will be removed from the committee, and whether she will be removed from FemSoc in general. This ban would include online spaces.

Whilst Vice President Services at EUSA last academic year, Haigh regularly drew attention to the importance of safe space, and the safe space policy at EUSA. After the banning of controversial Robin Thicke song, ‘Blurred Lines’ in 2013, Haigh said: “There is a zero tolerance towards sexual harassment, a policy to end lad culture on campus and a safe space policy – all of which this song violates.”

In their Facebook group, FemSoc state: “One of FemSoc’s biggest priorities is ensuring that both our online and physical spaces are safe for our members. […] Members of the society are expected to conduct themselves in an orderly manner, and respect the right of all society members to enjoy Edinburgh University Feminist Society as a safe space environment, defined as a space which is welcoming and safe and includes the prohibition of discriminatory language and actions.

“Where a member violates these guidelines, the committee and/or Welfare and Accessibility Officer shall have the right to deny access to the society’s physical and online spaces to the offending member, either for a prescribed period of time or indefinitely. […] The Safe Space policy will be in force at all events and online spaces facilitated by Edinburgh University Feminist Society.”

Speaking to The Student, Haigh said: “I believe this is an abuse of the safe space policy to deal with political disagreements, something which I hasten to add I think is very rare but very damaging for the feminist movement.

“Never once have I been told what I have done wrong or given any opportunities to address complaints but merely some members have pushed for it to jump straight to trying to throw me out. In addition, at this public meeting I am meant to make a statement defending myself, again, without having heard the accusations. I have plenty more concerns and problems however, I will leave them for my statement.”

The event will take place before FemSoc’s usual meeting at 7pm on October 26.

Registered members will be able to vote if they registered at least one week in advance of the meeting.

By Ilinca Barsan

Ilinca Barsan is a 4th year Sociology and Politics student. Formerly News Editor for The Student, she is now Editor-in-Chief. Ilinca also has a passion for smoked salmon, vintage shopping, all things digital, and puns beyond good and evil.

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