Free Speech Union’s letter to Jeremy Miles 25/2/2022
A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “We are aware of a letter sent to the Minister for Education and shared on social media. We have not received this letter and it is disappointing that were not given the opportunity to respond to the serious allegations raised.
“We dispute the claim that these matters have not been thoroughly investigated. We have undertaken an investigation and found that there was insufficient evidence to link Cardiff University staff or students to any actions that would breach our internal disciplinary codes. We have liaised with South Wales Police since June 2021, and they have confirmed that they do not intend to take any action.
“We believe we have acted appropriately and with the best intentions in safeguarding the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and students, and we will continue to support every member of our community, regardless of their views or identity, and uphold their right to freedom of expression.
“A small number of signatories of the initial letter have complained to the University. Ongoing academic, pastoral and security advice and support has been offered to those members of staff and we have remained in constant dialogue with some of them over the last few months. We will continue to support our staff and students on all sides of these difficult debates whilst upholding our commitment to free speech.
“A leaflet was distributed at a protest held outside Cardiff University in June 2021. The protest was organised by someone outside the University community. It is implied that the leaflet associated with the protest, and subsequent stickers, are the work of Cardiff University staff or students. We have no evidence to suggest that this is the case. Some staff have reported a few instances of stickers being put up in the public realm. These stickers were removed, and the relevant authorities were informed. The stickers and the pamphlet have been reported to South Wales Police.
“Given the concerns that the protest and the pamphlet raised, the University’s Vice-Chancellor wrote to all staff on 30th June, making it clear that whilst the pamphlet did not appear to be the work of members of our community, behaviour of this sort is entirely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our community.
“The Vice-Chancellor has been clear that all members of the University are free to express their views within the law. Our duty as an institution is to facilitate courteous, even if robust, discussion between different groups. We continue to support every member of our community who feels that they are unsafe or discriminated against owing to their views or their identity. Heads of School and colleagues in Security have offered their personal support to colleagues who have expressed gender-critical views, and we have made adjustments where individuals have raised concerns regarding their safety.
“We are aware that a windscreen was damaged on campus. Security staff provided advice and support to the individual member of staff whose property was damaged. We have no evidence that this incident is linked to the other events outlined here.”
Stonewall - 22/06/21
Cardiff University's strength comes from its diverse community. Our commitment to our LGBTQ+ community is longstanding and non-negotiable. We are very proud of the work we have done to ensure that LGBTQ+ staff and students feel welcomed and valued, and recognise the role that Stonewall has played in the development of policies and practices that have helped to create the supportive environment that we appreciate so much.
Every single member of staff, and each student, is important to us and we remain absolutely committed to providing a safe, happy and academically stimulating experience for all.
Academic freedom is central to us. As a research-intensive university, we encourage respectful academic debate, and we recognise the right of individuals, within the law, to hold views that may not be shared by others. We are aware that content has been shared at an event and on social media that has made members of our community feel unsafe - let us be clear that this is entirely unacceptable.
We have received one letter regarding our relationship with Stonewall and we are aware of a second. We recognise the strength of feeling that this issue has provoked. Our equality, diversity and inclusion policy underlines our commitment to 'fostering good relations between different groups'. Over the summer, we will seek to engage in dialogue with our Enfys LGBTQ+ network, the signatories of the initial letter and with Stonewall, to recognise and understand the concerns of all concerned and, if possible, help to foster greater understanding between the different groups. While we know that we are unlikely to reach a position where all agree, we would welcome the opportunity to facilitate meaningful discussion and the opportunity to challenge perspectives respectfully.
In the meantime we are conscious that many of those involved may have found these events distressing, and some may feel vulnerable. All staff and students affected can be assured of our support: students can contact email@example.com and staff can contact the Enfys network (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Employee Assistance Programme, Care First. We acknowledge that these discussions are difficult, and would ask everybody concerned to do their utmost to support all members of our community.
Response to Wales Online - 21/06/21
We are aware of both letters and we recognise the strength of feeling. These are detailed and considered letters, and we will be responding in due course.
Our strength as a university comes from our diverse community and whilst we actively encourage respectful academic debate our commitment to our LGBTQ+ community is longstanding and non-negotiable.
We remain a member of the Stonewall Diversity Champions Scheme. At the point of renewal in October 2021, as is standard procedure for all of our relationships, we will review our partnership and make a decision on our ongoing involvement in consultation with our academic and student community.