Sidney JCR release statement in response to college hosting Christian Concern

Sophie Dickinson 14 September 2017

SSCSU, Sidney Sussex’s JCR, have today released a statement in response to Tuesday’s revelations that the college hosted the ‘pro-gay conversion’ group Christian Concern under the guise of The Wilberforce Academy.

The statement, from the JCR President Francesca Jenkins, reads in full:

“Sidney Sussex College Student Union celebrates the diversity of its student community and strives to make sure all its members feel welcome and accepted.

However, the current Wilberforce Academy Conference hosted by Christian Concern has compromised the safe and welcoming environment we aim to maintain. This is because they hold views that deny the very identity of many of our members. This has appalled members of the Sidney community, of all faiths, as well as the wider university. Over 300 university members have signed a petition expressing their outrage that College has hosted this conference group.

We are naturally advocates of free speech but by the same token refuse to tolerate speech which threatens the experience of our colleagues.

Whilst conference guests do not reflect the views of Sidney Sussex College, hosting them implicitly provides them with legitimacy that other conference venues would not provide.

The University of Cambridge is unique in that it is a world renowned institution that prides itself on progress, integrity and inclusiveness.

Moreover, Sidney is not only an academic institution but a home for our students throughout the year. It is a place where students should always feel comfortable to be themselves.

We will therefore be taking further action to ensure Sidney remains a welcoming and inclusive environment. We have already begun productive conversations with the college to achieve this. We are proud of our long tradition of celebrating diversity and will continue to do so.

We would like to reassure our incoming Freshers that Sidney is a safe and welcoming community for all. We cannot wait to welcome you into our Sidney family.”

Paul Holland, the University’s News Communications Manager, also shared a statement on behalf of the college. It reads:

“A University spokesperson said on behalf of the College: ‘We appreciate the concerns this private event booking has created. The College is progressive and inclusive and we benefit greatly from our diverse community and the LGBT+ initiatives within the College. The views and opinions of organisations making private bookings do not reflect those of the College or the wide variety of views held by its staff and students.'”

CUSU also released a statement condemning the college’s decision, and a petition has been set up Sidney’s LGBTQ+, Women, Welfare, and BME Officers.

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