Statement from the Debating Society
Dear Debating Society Member and Exeter Students,
We are aware that there has been speculation about whether we are inviting Caroline Farrow to debate. We were recently made aware by concerned students that she has been voicing anti-LGBTQ+ views online. We take initial responsibility for her invitation; as a new committee we saw her name on a speaker document, informing us that she had debated at Exeter before and invited her. On reflection, it seems that her views have become a lot more extreme since she last attended an event with us. On realising her views, we emailed, retracting her invitation. This is because we hold the wellbeing of ALL of our members paramount and did not want to create a situation where they would feel disrespected or marginalised. This retraction was then shared to Twitter by the speaker, where a small amount of people responded negatively. The Student’s Guild re-invited this speaker and we understand that their justification for this is based their interpretation of the legality of freedom of speech. The Guild have told us that we cannot run this event unless Farrow attends. They also later suggested that we could postpone this event to due the stress the situation has put committee members under- we feel that postponing would not be fair on speakers, committee members and viewers, who all hold a stake in this event going ahead. We have taken the decision as a committee to run this event, hosting Farrow. This was a difficult decision, but we understand that we have a responsibility to abide by freedom of speech laws. We apologise to any students and the LGBTQ+ community if this causes offence and we will ensure that this debate is monitored accordingly.
Thanks to those who have supported us,
Exeter University Debating Society
Comment from the Students' Guild:
The Students’ Guild is committed to creating a diverse range of events where our members have the opportunity to debate and challenge relevant topics. We see this as an important part of University life. We are committed to standing against all forms of discrimination and challenging those that express such opinions.