Wellington 16 October 2019
Despite professing commitment to free speech principles, today Massey University announced they would be revoking their agreement with Speak Up For Women to host their event ‘Feminism 2020’ at their Wellington Campus.
Citing “external advice on its health, safety and wellbeing obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and its duty of care to the University community,” Massey have once more proven that they are willing to cave to activist intimidation tactics.
“The staff and students of Massey were never at any risk from our event nor from the speech of the four women speaking at it. We are a group of women wanting to talk about our rights. This should not be controversial in 2019,” says Speak Up For Women spokeswoman Ani O’Brien.
The group held an event earlier this year in Auckland at which MP Louisa Wall and decorated human rights lawyer Rosa Freedman spoke. The event occurred without any safety or security issues and facilitated constructive discussion from different perspectives. “We intend to conduct our November events in the same respectful tone as our previous events with speakers of incredible calibre and expertise in their fields and robust discussion,” says Ms O’Brien.
Massey University states a commitment “to the values of academic freedom, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of expression, as values that lie at the very heart of the tradition of a university and academic inquiry.” However, in the light of de-platforming more speakers due to pressure from activists, it appears that these statements are just lip service.
“A clear picture has emerged that shows that certain public organisations and educational institutions are completely ruled by thugs’ veto. New Zealanders should be aware that we are living in a country where a small group of activists are dictating who can and cannot speak in public spaces using threats and intimidation,” says Ms O’Brien.
“We’ve seen an extremist activist group simply threaten to protest events and in response Auckland Council cancel or move the event. Now at Massey, health and safety is being used to threaten legal action and they have cancelled. If a group of Kiwi women – mums, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, unionists, professionals, students – have been deemed too ‘dangerous’ to be allowed to hold an event, who on earth will be permitted to by these wannabe-fascists?”
Speak Up For Women are determined that they will go ahead with their event nonetheless and are currently in the process of finding a new venue; “this has shown us once again how important it is that we continue to fight to speak openly about women’s rights.”