Repeal RUSU's University Challenge Boycott
Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) recently voted to boycott the television show 'University Challenge' over alleged sexist comments made by Jeremy Paxman. The boycott was agreed by a narrow vote. We reject this vote on two grounds: (1) the margin of victory was narrow and unrepresentative. Few people were aware of the vote, and only 225 of over 17,000 people voted. We suggest that the vote was not adequately publicised; (2) RUSU is refusing to disclose was the alleged sexist comments were. If RUSU cannot disclose them, then there can be no legitimate vote on whether or not they were, in fact, sexist and inappropriate comments. Students cannot reasonably vote on comments if they are not permitted to know what those comments were, especially since Jeremy Paxman himself seems unaware of what the comments were.
We, therefore, consider the vote to be illegitimate and request that RUSU return it. We are not, in principle, oppose to a boycott, but request that any boycott is to be adopted only if there is a fair and representative vote wherein there is adequate publicity of the vote, and if there is transparency about what the comments were. Any lack of transparency is equivalent to voting in the dark.
We urge RUSU to consider and accept this petition quickly, as the premature boycott has not only brought it into disrepute in the media, but has also brought into disrepute the whole of the University of Reading and its students, most of whom were not aware of the vote to boycott until after the fact.