UKC Liberty Union suspended following allegations of racism
The Kent Union society, UKC Liberty Union, has been suspended pending investigation into alleged racism.
Allegations of racism emerged this morning on social media from the newly created, Kent Anti-Racist News, showing screenshots from the Liberty Union Facebook group chat with what the former suggest is “offensive ‘banter’”.
These screenshots of the prviate chat have been regularly updated onto their website (which can be seen here) with the group claiming they'll relase more screenshots until the society is either disbanded by Kent Union, the University of Kent, or by itself.
The screenshots were taken by an anonymous source to the Kent Anti-Racist News group, who claims they have all the individuals' responsible on record. Liberty Union claims that all the screenshots were out of context and cherry-picked.
UKC Liberty Union are a society dedicated to free speech and invite guest speakers on campus for debates and lectures, recent speakers include Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad).
In a statement on their website, Kent Union said that:
“Kent Union has suspended one of its student societies, UKC Liberty Union, whilst investigations into alleged racism within the Society are conducted.
“We have been contacted by a number of students presenting evidence claiming messages of distasteful and racist tone were allegedly sent by members of UKC Liberty Union on private social media platforms.
“We are proud to protect the rights of all individuals on campus and will investigate these allegations, alongside the University of Kent. In the meantime, the Society has been suspended, whilst we carry out a full investigation into the allegations made against UKC Liberty Union.”
Another example of the screenshots taken by the anonymous source to the Kent Anti-Racist Group.
Liberty Union has since published a statement in response to the investigation:
"The Liberty Union was the group that initially requested a meeting with KU and an investigation, not the other way around, because we believe in full transparency and that there is no evidence of racism or illegal speech in the group chat.
“As such, the idea that KU came to the sole decision to 'suspend' us is a result of us approaching them in the first place to clear the air and provide explanation.
“We will be releasing a statement soon explaining every screenshot in turn using context and the true intent. We believe that the contexts of the different screenshots were deliberately omitted, and we will provide proof that there is no trace of racism, fascism, or hatred in the Liberty Union".
After the blog post was published today, a committee member of the Liberty Union, laid out their response on Facebook, saying "far worse has been said by groups who have had no way near as much criticism".
Posters advertising Kent Anti-Racist News' website and social media have since been seen across the Canterbury campus.
This isn't the first time that Liberty Union have been openly criticised on campus, with graffiti labelled "FCK LU" being painted on the Sports Centre and Kent Union attempted to deplatform their invited speaker, Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad) earlier this academic year.
Originally posted onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, responses to the allegations on social media have been extremely divisive with even Canterbury MP, Rosie Duffield, also criticising the screenshots on Twitter, claiming some were “vile stuff”.
Other notable reactions have come from the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) and Kent Union BME Officer, KG Bankojo, who have posted their own criticisms online.
The University of Kent has been contacted for comment.
More updates and in-depth analysis to come from InQuire in near future.