The LSE Student Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society is not impressed by the way the SU has reacted to the gender segregation controversy. It explains on the SU website.
We are disappointed by the LSESU General Secretary Jay Stoll’s statement that the threat of forced gender segregation is “practically non-existent” (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) and his accusation that anti-segregation campaigners are ‘Islamophobic’. We also have good reason to distrust LSESU Community and Welfare Officer Anneessa Mahmood’s defence that only “voluntarily segregated” meetings are taking place on the LSE campus, and that there have been “no meetings at LSE where segregation has been enforced upon people“, even if she states that “as an organisation we would not condone that at all, we would break up the meeting.”
They do have good reason. Anneessa Mahmood is the one who first accosted Chris and Abhishek at the Freshers’ Fair and started grabbing their materials off their table. They reported back in October:
On Thursday 3rd of October, we (Abishek Phadnis and Chris Moos) were at the LSESU Freshers’ Fair, manning the stall of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society to meet other non-believing students. At around noon, we were approached by LSESU Community and Welfare Officer Anneessa Mahmood, Anti-Racism Officer Rayhan Uddin, and Deputy Chief Executive Jarlath O’Hara and several others who identified as LSESU staff.
Without explanation, Anneessa Mahmood started removing material from the stall. When challenged, she claimed that it was “offensive”.
“Community and Welfare” indeed.
Back to the current post:
Chris Moos, Secretary of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, points out: “It is disingenuous of Anneessa Mahmood to claim there has never been forced segregation. She cannot deny, as a former officer of the LSESU Islamic Society, that that Society regularly conducts“brothers circle” and “sisters circle” events on campus. This is in direct contravention of the LSESU’s policy on inclusivity, which requires that all society events be accessible to all students, no matter what their belief, race or gender is.”
Abhishek Phadnis, President of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, added: “I am saddened, though not entirely surprised, by Mr. Stoll’s reckless and unfounded accusations. His irresponsible statement is emblematic of the flippant manner in which university officials have deliberately ignored the misbehaviour of religious organisations on campus, and have allowed this sordid practice to balloon into a serious menace to gender equality. Mr. Stoll’s allegation of ‘Islamophobia’ is a crude attempt to smear principled opposition to the imposition of religious mores on universities as bigotry, so as to enable him and his fellow officials to continue to abdicate their duty to address the legitimate concerns of students”.
It’s discouraging, seeing officers of the LSE Student Union supporting theocracy and demonizing secularism.
At the end of the piece is a long and useful list of links to media coverage, including one to Maryam on the World Service, which I didn’t know about.