A press release from the University of Edinburgh Humanist Society:
EUSA Rejects Secularism
• Edinburgh University Students Association last night failed to endorse a motion to ensure equality for students of all beliefs, whether religious or not.
• Students recently passed “EUSA is a Feminist”, but last night “felt uncomfortable” voting in favour of “EUSA is a Secularist”.
Last night (27/02/14) Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA) failed to endorse a motion to bring about equality for students of all beliefs, whether religious or not.
Echoing a move by EUSA’s Vice President Services, who put forward a successful motion in November 2013 to say that “EUSA is a Feminist”, the University of Edinburgh Humanist Society (HumSoc) submitted a motion to recognise that “EUSA is a Secularist”.
The student union’s failure to pass this motion comes only weeks after a motion to secure a ban on enforced segregation in EUSA venues – also submitted by HumSoc – was rejected. After this previous session, on February 6th, one member of the HumSoc committee was labelled “openly Islamophobic”.
Speaking after last night’s meeting, HumSoc president, Luke Hecht said, “This motion was an attempt to formalise EUSA’s secular character and to provide a basis for actively promoting secularism to students, and to wider society. Members of the student council suggested that EUSA was already secular, but that formalising it was unnecessary and could make religious students feel uncomfortable.”
“This is unfortunate, as secularism is about guaranteeing equality and protecting the rights of those of minority beliefs, and those of none.”
HumSoc secretary, Ian Scott, who proposed the motion, said, “It’s deeply disappointing that student council chose not support our call for EUSA to explicitly endorse secularism, and to promote itself as a secularist organisation. Ours was modelled on a previous motion, “EUSA is a Feminist”, which passed without issue. This demonstrates that student council did not take issue with the language of motion itself, but that they voted differently specifically because of the issue of secularism. That students feel unable to formally endorse freedom of belief is highly troubling.”