Student at Center of Edinburgh U ‘Armgate’ Controversy Says She Was Targeted Over ‘Passionate’ Anti-BDS Speech
by Andrew Pessin
A student who was nearly ejected from a debate over an Israel boycott motion at Edinburgh University last week claimed in the Huffington Post on Wednesday that she had been targeted for her positions.
Imogen Wilson, a music student and officer in the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA), wrote that she was accused of violating the EUSA’s “Safe Space Policy” when she raised her arms in disagreement after being accused by another speaker of failing to respond to an earlier open letter concerning issues for disabled students.
Wilson explained that she raised her arms because she had in fact “responded to the writers [of the letter] almost immediately.”
According to the “Safe Space Policy,” however, student council meetings should be held in “a space which is welcoming and safe and includes the prohibition of discriminatory language and actions,” including “refraining from hand gestures which denote disagreement or in any other way indicating disagreement with a point or points being made. Disagreements should only be evident through the normal course of debate.
Nevertheless, Wilson said, “The meeting continued, seemingly without any cause for concern.”
It was only about 40 minutes later, when she was making a “passionate speech” against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) motion being debated, that “someone made a safe space complaint about me for what happened at the start of the meeting.”
The council members then paused to vote on whether Wilson should be ejected from the room. There were 18 who voted to remove her, but 33 voted to allow her to stay, and the meeting continued.
“I cannot help but think that the complaint against me was a political move,” she concluded, basing her suspicion on the fact that during her speech against the BDS motion, in which she stressed its harmful consequences for Jewish and Israeli students on campus, “There were many who were shaking their heads. Yet later in the meeting someone threatened me with a second complaint because I was shaking my head as someone spoke.”
“‘Armgate,’ as my friends are calling this bizarre incident,” she wrote, was also “the only time an official safe space complaint has been made at a student council meeting in my time at EUSA.”
The day after the meeting, Wilson tweeted: “Maybe people should be less concerned with my arm movements and more concerned that EUSA just passed policy to support BDS.”
Another student, Charlie Peters, tweeted: “Safe spaces now censor ‘inappropriate hand gestures’ – my university is becoming pathetic.”
Wilson published some of her objections to BDS earlier this week in an essay in The Student Newspaper.