Elham Asaad Buaras
Students at London’s Brunel University staged a mass walkout during a speech by controversial right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins on November 23.
In one of her most controversial recent tirades, Hopkins was roundly criticised for calling refugees “cockroaches” in a column for the Sun newspaper in September.
Some of her other hits include proposing the House of Lords be gassed, saying holidaymakers stranded in Egypt following the Sinai air crash were “betting their family’s lives on cheap tan” and suggesting “euthanasia vans” might be the answer to Britain’s ageing population.
A video of the awkward moment has surfaced online showing a packed lecture hall ahead of Hopkins’ address. As she made her opening comments, however, students stood and turned their backs on her before filing out in unison.
The debate had been due to discuss whether or not the welfare state still had a place in Britain, and was being held to mark the university’s 50th anniversary.
The Daily Mail writer used her column on the publication’s website to lambast the behaviour of Brunel University students who turned their backs on her, describing their “closed thinking” as seeking “to deride and delegitimise anyone with an alternative opinion.”
“Naturally I carried on regardless. Because, for them, I have no regard. Because they are already decided,” she wrote.
“It was mainly that we didn’t feel that she fitted the debate and she wasn’t the right person to be speaking,” Joe Nicell, Brunel Students’ Union communications manager, told the Independent.
Nicell said the protest had been planned for some time after students first raised objections in October.
Brunel Students’ Union President Ali Milani called Hopkins the “physical manifestation of online trolls” who offered no “valuable intellectual insight” to the discussion.