Vote on Kirsty Haigh’s removal to be delayed
Edinburgh University Feminist Society’s (FemSoc) Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), at which the society was to vote on whether to remove committee member Kirsty Haigh, could not go ahead as planned on Sunday October 26.
President Naomi Beecroft and Welfare and Accessibility Officer Lorin Murray-Campbell, resigned. Further resignations have yet to be confirmed.
A petition of 20 signatures from members of FemSoc would have been needed to bring the complaints against Haigh to an EGM.
This petition was being managed by Murray-Campbell. Murray-Campbell was not present at the meeting due to her resignation, and so the petition was not presented.
In her resignation statement, Beecroft said: “Our politics on sex work are unrivalled – we’ve taken a clear, principled human rights approach to sex work. EUSA’s pro decriminalisation motion couldn’t have happened without the work of this society.
“Our anti-rape-apologism politics and transition into a liberation-focused committee make me so proud.
“But beyond this, I no longer feel like I share politics with this collective. As a feminist and an anarchist activist, anti-oppression politics are a fundamental tenet of my praxis. Safe spaces are a key part of this.
“For those at the top of these hierarchies, safer spaces have become a witch hunt, to use an outdated and potentially misogynistic phrase. […] It is for this reason that I can no longer participate in this society.
Beecroft then criticised Haigh’s behaviour as “throwing a basic feminist principle under the bus”.
She said: “I am proud of our past, but ashamed of where we are now. I hope that we can move past this and for our society to be once again at the forefront of student intersection struggle, but I am not able to contribute to this process. This is my resignation letter.”
Beecroft left the room after finishing her statement. Chris Belous, Treasurer of FemSoc, proceeded to chair the meeting.
Reacting to Beecroft’s resignation and statement, Haigh said: “I have already had to wait for over a month for over a month for this EGM, and I don’t want to have to wait another few weeks for this to happen again.”
She also demanded a chance to respond to Beecroft’s statement: “I have had no chance to respond so far, and I don’t think that’s very fair.”
Regarding whether or not the vote on Haigh’s future in FemSoc would be able to proceed as planned, Belous explained: “The issue is that the constitution states that a petition of 20 signatures has to be presented for the EGM, and that is not here, because it is with the Welfare and Accessibility Officer.”
Haigh raised the question of whether the petition had reached the necessary 20 signatures, and suggested that Murray-Campbell was absent, to cover this up.
Instead of the expected proceedings, the EGM voted to allow Haigh to put forward her prepared statement with the understanding that this would not be voted on.
Haigh said: “One month ago, I was informed that I had breached safe space policy and that the welfare officer would remove me from the society.
“Later that day, due to intervention of an old committee member, I was informed that I would be able to make this statement to defend myself […].
“I was not told what I had done wrong, whose safe space I had breached, or which part of the policy I had breached.
“I was merely told that ‘we are at no obligation to disclose any of the information or identity, when I pushed I was informed that I had breached the part where safe space should be safe for everyone.”
Haigh went on to accuse several FemSoc committee members of trying to find a way to remove her from the committee, questioning the motives behind the safe space complaints made against her.
Haigh had brought screenshots of conversations in a Facebook group to the EGM to back up these claims.
Further, she said: “I was given an email address to appeal to, which didn’t work, and when I explained this, the next day I was told that I could appeal on Facebook, but that message wasn’t replied to other than saying that my appeal couldn’t mention the name of the person that complained.”
She said: “When an event was made for tonight, I could not see it – I was only made aware of the event when it was posted in the committee group that it was happening.
“I hope that at some point this process will be changed so that no one else will be treated as I have in the past two weeks.”
The vote against the safe space complaints will be reviewed by the newly elected interim Welfare and Accessibility Officers Cat Moody and Olivia Donoghue and will be put forward in a case with a signed anonymous petition at an EGM as soon as possible.
FemSoc will be having another Extraordinary General Meeting in two weeks, where they will elect a new President, following the resignation of Naomi Beecroft. Any committee positions vacated as a result of today’s resignations will also be filled at the EGM in two weeks’ time.