A British university has defended one of its professors after a campaign called her “one of this wretched island’s most prominent transphobes” and demanded her to be fired.
The University of Sussex said on Thursday that the effort to get philosophy professor Kathleen Stock fired was disturbing and that the university will not tolerate threats to academic freedoms.
Stock, who is known for her book “Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism,” has been at odds with some transgender activists since 2018, when she said that while “most trans people are law-abiding and wouldn’t dream of harming anyone,” trans women shouldn’t be in spaces such as females dress rooms “in a completely unrestricted way” because many of them “are still males with male genitalia” and “are sexually attracted to females.”
A self-described “anonymous, unaffiliated group of queer, trans, and non-binary students,” who named their group “Anti-TERF Sussex,” recently set up an Instagram page, demanding Stock to be fired from the university. TERF is an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”
In a leaflet titled “Anti-Stock Action 2021,” the group accused Stock of being a “bigot” who is “harmful and dangerous to trans people.”
It demanded the university fire Stock. “Until then, you’ll see us around,” the leaflet reads.
A photo posted by the group on Wednesday shows a banner reading “STOCK OUT” amid blue flares on top of a casted stone logo of the university at its campus in Brighton.
Another photo posted on Thursday shows posters on a wall in the tunnel from Falmer station into campus, reading “KATHLEEN STOCK MAKES TRANS STUDENTS UNSAFE” and “FIRE KATHLEEN STOCK.”
The university posted a statement by its Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell on Twitter, saying the university is investigating the campaign.
“We are investigating activity on our campus which appears to have been designed to attack Professor Kathleen Stock for exercising her academic freedoms,” the statement reads.
“Disturbingly, this has included pressuring the University to terminate her employment. Everyone at the university has the right to be free from harassment and intimidation,” he added.
“We cannot and will not tolerate threats to cherished academic freedoms and will take any action necessary to protect the rights of our community.”
In a string of Twitter post on Friday, Stock extended her “undying gratitude” to people who helped or encouraged in the past few days and thanked Tickell for defending her academic freedom after the outgoing vice-chancellor appeared on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme.
“Universities aren’t places where students should just expect to hear their own thoughts reflected back at them,” she wrote.” Arguments should be met by arguments and evidence by evidence, not intimidation or aggression.”
In an email to The Epoch Times, Sussex Police confirmed that it is also investigating the matter.
On Wednesday, Oct. 6, “we received a report of harassment of an employee at the University of Sussex and we are investigating,” the statement said. “We take all reports of harassment seriously and will seek to investigate and to support victims.”