I am writing this to provide an update about the decision to ask the SWP to stop bringing their paraphernalia to demonstrations. I write to you as both a survivor who was affected by the visible SWP presence at demonstrations, and as a member of the campaign.
The Anti-Privatisation Campaign at Sussex University formally requested to the Socialist Works Party that they refrain from bringing any placards, banners, posters, papers, or other paraphernalia that displays the Socialist Worker logos to our demonstrations. The SWP have responded in agreement, and they will no longer be bringing any memorabilia to our events.
The campaign wishes to be open and transparent, and the reason for this decision is as follows. It was reported to the campaign that some people were uncomfortable attending demonstrations because they find a visible SWP presence to be upsetting and in some cases triggering, due to the way that the SWP handled the allegations made by former members of the party. Heavy political opposition and unrest arose from this due to many members of the student body disagreeing with how the SWP handled these allegations.
The campaign has a safe space policy that it upholds and respects, and this includes taking it very seriously when people come forward as being affected by something at their eventswhich contravenes this. The safe space policy states that “we work on the basis of the concept of consent. We do not support any victim blaming, rape apologism, or ‘slut’ shaming, and view the crossing of consent as completely unforgivable” (for the full policy, see http://sussexagainstprivatization.wordpress.com/about/safe-space/).The campaign prioritise the well-being of the people who are being affected over those who are causing the effect.
During the campaign meeting when I raised the issue of the SWP presence, I said that I do not want to ban SWP members from the campaign or events, as the issue lay with the visible presence and what that symbolises to the survivors such as myself and others, many of whom have raised this concern. I said that the ultimate issue was for the campaign to take a stance on the fact that people are being affected at events. The campaign has done this, and I hope that you will respect what I have asked and understand why I have asked for it.
The delay in this statement arose from the fact that I struggled to write it, as it is obviously a very sensitive and personal issue. I have seen the campaign come under attack for not releasing a statement, but it was because they were giving me time to write what happened in my own words, in a way that I feel comfortable with. I hope that you can appreciate why I needed this time and understand that the delay was not the fault of the campaign.
Most importantly, I would like to express that I cannot give enough thanks to those people who came forward as being upset, as it gave me the strength to speak up, and allowed the campaign to reach this important decision. I hope that you agree with what I asked of the campaign in that meeting, and I hope that you will now feel safe coming to demonstrations. Thank you once again.