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Edinburgh University Student Threatened With Removal From Council Meeting After Violating Safe Space Policy

01/04/2016 16:29 | Updated 01 April 2016
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A student at Edinburgh University received a "ludicrous" complaint after she raised her arms during a meeting.

Imogen Wilson, Vice President for academic affairs at Edinburgh's student association, was threatened with removal from Thursday's student council session under "safe space" rules.

After being accused of failing disabled students by not responding to an open letter, Wilson responded instinctively.

"At that point, I raised my arms in disagreement, as we had contacted the writers of the letter and tried hard to organise a meeting. It was for that reason that a safe space complaint was made," Wilson told HuffPost UK.

Section 6c of the Student's Association's safe space policy says that council members should be respectful and considerate.

This is defined as: "Refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement or in any other way indicating disagreement with a point or points being made. Disagreements should only be evident through the normal course of debate."

When someone has been accused of violating the safe space policy, a vote takes place to decide whether they should be removed from the room. In this instance, 18 people voted to remove Wilson, and 33 voted for her to remain.

Wilson later shook her head whilst someone was speaking, and was threatened with another safe space complaint.

"I completely understand the importance of our safe space policy, and will defend it to the ground, but I did not think that was fair, and had it gone further I would have either left or argued against it," she said.

A fourth-year student at the meeting, who wished to remain anonymous, told HuffPost UK: "The whole thing was a ludicrous abuse of the entire intent of safe space.

"We were having one of the most emotionally tense councils of the year, with the vote on the BDS movement and people speaking who live in Palestine or are Israeli on both sides of the issue.

"There was ample risk of there being an actual safe space issue taking place—an anti-semitic or islamophobic comment for instance—but the whole debate was actually remarkably civil despite how emotional it was.

"So for someone to have abused the very legitimate purpose of safe space rules to get at someone they politically disagreed with was pretty low.

"And for 18 other students who definitely could not have all seen the motion themselves to vote for that sabbatical officer's removal from the room, clearly just out of political disagreement, was also crazy," they said.

Charlie Peters, a first-year student at Edinburgh, sometimes attends the council meetings. He was appalled with the safe space policy in place at his university, and set up a petition against it, which had 1000 signatures on Friday afternoon.

"What sort of an education do you promote if you would make it harder for us to debate and have us avoid the views some do not agree with? We are adults, we do not need condescension or safeguarding," Peters wrote in the letter.

EUSA have been contacted for comment but had yet to respond at the time of publication.

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