The BBC reports on UUK’s statement.
Universities UK says it has today requested legal clarification from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
In a letter, Universities UK which represents 132 institutions, has asked the Commission to consider having the issue clarified by the High Court, “or provide a clear and public statement about the law and the relevant policy considerations”.
The row over the UUK guidance has sparked protests from students and some MPs.
UUK actually doesn’t represent 132 institutions, it represents 132 vice-chancellors.
Along with students and MPs the row has also sparked protests from journalists and activists and bystanders like me.
Shadow business secretary Chukka Umunna told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “horrified”.
While former home secretary Jack Straw said it was “wrong” for universities “to indulge in such extraordinary behaviour”.
That’s good. Jack Straw was terrible about the Danish Motoons; it’s good that he’s better on this subject.
Ms Dandridge told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are not talking about universities enforcing segregation.
“One of the questions that runs through our case study which illustrates this question is, ‘Is this segregation voluntary, have the people who are likely to come to this event agreed to the segregation?’
“That is something that would be fundamentally important to the university in making a decision.
She is so confused. Her question makes no sense. “‘Is this segregation voluntary, have the people who are likely to come to this event agreed to the segregation?'” She talks about “the people who are likely to come to this event” – in other words an unknown – and then talks about whether this unknown has agreed to the segregation or not. That does not work! This is not a set of people who have been asked for their agreement in advance. It’s an unknown set of people, and their “agreement” is simply being guessed at. She doesn’t even know what people are likely to come to the event! It could be a lot of curious secular people, or people who admire the opposition side in the debate. That whole claim is incoherent.
“In practice if the people coming to this event said, ‘We do not want to segregate and separate out men and women,’ it is inconceivable that the university would impose it on them.
Oh really? Because a lot of people going to the Krauss-Tzortzis debate did say exactly that, yet the segregation was imposed anyway. It was imposed by the organizers but the university did nothing to prevent it, or prevent it from being imposed.
Ms Dandridge emphasised that the case study was about a very specific scenario: “We are not talking about teaching, lectures, the core business of universities.”
She rejected comparisons to racial segregation.
Well I reject her rejection.
I am seriously tired of people cheerfully doing things to women that they wouldn’t in a million years do to Other Races.
“It is not something which is so alien to our culture that it has to be regarded like race segregation.”
Really? It’s not? People in the UK are quite accustomed to being told to sit with their own gender in public places? On buses, on the tube, in cinemas, at the theatre, in libraries, in restaurants?
The hell they are. That kind of pious, squeamish, cootiephobic sorting is extremely alien to UK culture.
Mr Umunna told Today a future Labour government would outlaw segregation on campus.
“I was horrified by what I heard…
“Let me be absolutely clear. A future Labour government would not allow or tolerate segregation in our universities.
“It offends basic norms in our society.
“Of course people should be free to practise their religion privately in places of worship and at religious events but universities are publicly funded places of research, learning and teaching and as such there is no place, in my view, for state-sponsored segregation.”
See that, Minnow? Universities are publicly funded places. We didn’t make that up.
Universities UK has today also published legal advice on its guidance from Fenella Morris QC which concludes that it “is lawful and provides an appropriate foundation for lawful decision-making by universities”.
If Fenella Morris QC is correct then I hope Parliament changes that law quickly.