London Student tyranny?

Jen Izaakson’s position as Editor of London Student was put into question at the beginning of the semester. Her decision to publish transphobic remarks by public hate figure Jason Wong in The Great Debate piece caused a stir amongst London’s LGBT community.

The article was in response to the issue of whether unisex toilets should exist on university campuses. Wong likened the introduction of genderless toilets at the LSE to a ‘cheap strip club in the alleys of Bangkok.’

In the aftermath, Wong remained staunch in his views and said, ‘Two toilets… that’s how it starts. The worrying thing is that both Alex Peters-Day and LGBT Officer John Peart have repeatedly refused to rule out plans to convert more or all of the existing toilets into gender neutral ones. Clearly, the SU has plans to do so. I guarantee you, once the two genderless toilets are built, there is no turning back. We will only see more and more of the existing toilets transformed into genderless ones. Before we know it, the idea of “male” and “female” toilets will be an ancient concept. And before we know it, I’ll be forced to use the same toilet as Alex Peters-Day…’

Newspapers were temporarily removed from LSE campuses and a statement from the Union was inserted into every copy. Wong responded, ‘You couldn’t make this up. The Student Union has decided to censor my article by removing all copies of the London Student, where my article was published, from LSE. This kind of unprecedented, Gaddafi-like suppression of free speech once again proves that Alex Peters-Day will go as low as necessary and will stop at nothing to push forward her radical far-left agenda.’

LSESU General Secretary Alex Peters-Day responded to his open letter on her blog with, ‘Several of the comments you made in your article were transphobic and as such I will not be apologising nor will I be withdrawing my statement.

‘I feel that the comments made in your piece were offensive and may be detrimental to the well-being of transgender students on our campus and as such would encourage you to consider the impact such comments will have in future.

‘I will not be putting the issue of gender neutral toilets to an online referendum as accessibility does not require a referendum.’

The debacle also provided opportunity for countless people to make public statements, all condemning Wong and London Student’s decision to publish his diatribe.

Apart from outing the newspaper as disconcertingly LSE-centric, the Great Debate piece shows that Izaakson is willing to provide a platform for controversial views and simply offensive language.

However, Christopher Hares, PGT Campaigns Officer at KCLSU, responded on Twitter with, ‘Shame that the guy was given a platform but I’m sure students will have read the ‘Yes’ section. Think BNP on BBC Question Time.’

Alex Peters-Day, who is regularly criticised by Wong for her policies, said ‘It’s definitely a good thing that he’s getting so publicly derided and that trans issues have been given such a platform.’

 

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

17th September

London Student is released on campuses with the offending article.

18th September

Outrage breaks out over Twitter like wildfire. Many transgender London students respond publicly.

Newspapers are removed from LSE campus and return later on with statement from the Union condemning the offending content

Wong writes an open letter to LSESU General Secretary Alex Peters-Day.

Former Editor-in-Chief of Roar! Natasha Wynarczyk tweets, ‘Typical London Student, publishing an inflammatory article at the beginning of the year.’

19th September

Alex Peters-Day responds to Wong’s open letter on her blog.

 

You can follow Ben Jackson on Twitter at @bjacksonuk

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