Scottish feminists resist “embarrassment” of Milo’s Glasgow rector bid

Nathanael Williams

Controversial speaker and writer faces backlash by Glasgow students and feminist activists after being nominated for university’s rectorship

“AN EMBARRASSMENT”, is how feminists and academics have described the nomination of Milo Yiannopoulos for the position of rector of the University of Glasgow (UoG).

The prominent “alt-right” speaker, who targets women, Muslims, immigrants and members of the LGBT+ community in his speeches is one of 12 names put forward by students to represent them on the university’s governing body.

Tensions have risen on campus with the pledge by equality activists and students that if Milo Yiannopoulos attends the university to speak there will be major protests.

The reaction also follows the launch of an online petition by students asking for Milo to be removed from the list of contenders.

Karen Boyle, a professor of feminist media studies and director of postgraduate gender studies at the University of Stirling, expressed her disappointment at the nomination having

Speaking to CommonSpace Boyle, worked at UoG for 11 years among scholars who laboured to build a faculty for the study of equality. said: “I find it difficult to believe that the list of nominations is anything other than an embarrassment to the University of Glasgow.

“That in 2017 a list of 12 nominees for a figurehead role of this nature includes only one woman suggests how antiquated the nominations system is. The Milo for Rector campaign has been reproducing claims about how disadvantaged white men are. The history of this role, & current nominations, alone should show how spurious this is.

“This is not about freedom of speech but about electing a figurehead who can represent the interests of all students. An openly misogynist racist hardly qualifies and this must feel like a massive slap in the face to much of Glasgow’s student body.”

“This is not about freedom of speech but about electing a figurehead who can represent the interests of all students.” Professor Karen Boyle

Among the other names on the list is human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar who in a recent piece called for Yiannopoulos to be allowed to run, “so we can see him lose.”

Yiannopoulos recently came under scrutiny following the release of a video and audio recording in which he allegedly condoned ‘consensual’ sexual relationships between boys and older men. As a result of this his publisher, Simon & Schuster, withdrew its book deal and the American conservative union cancelled his scheduled appearance at the conservative gathering CPAC.

Milo has also resigned from his role as editor of ‘alt-right’ news outlet Breibart which used to be run by US President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon. In 2016 he was banned from Twitter after his targeting African-American Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, which led to her being the victim of racial abuse on the platform.

The reason for the outcry against Milo’s nomination is not only regarding his views but the feeling that his nomination and possible election would leave many students without representation. The UoG rector is the leading representative on the university’s board, who is charged with communicating with students and addressing their daily concerns relating to the running of the university. 

“I find it difficult to believe that the list of nominations is anything other than an embarrassment to the University of Glasgow.” Professor Karen Boyle

Being the ‘president of the university court’, the rector is supposed to hold regular surgeries, meet with students and attend key events in the university’s calendar. 

The current rector is Edward Snowden, the NSA operative who leaked information about US intelligence service and military operations. Other previous rectors have included figures thought to represent the progressive values of many among the student body, such as former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, writer and musician Pat Kane and apartheid activist Winnie Mandela.

In a statement on its website, the university said: “All nominees have personally agreed to take part in the election which will be conducted electronically and under the single-transferable-vote system from 9am on 20 March until 4pm on 21 March 2017.”

Picture courtesy of YouTube/BillMaher

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