Durham Women’s Association (DWA), Durham Intersectional Feminism Society (DIFS) and the Durham People of Colour Association (DPOCA) have today released statements condemning the treatment of SU President-elect Seun Twins following a series of posts on the student Facebook group Overheard at Durham Uni.
The controversy began on Monday 6th April, when Christopher Page, a student at University College, published one of Twins’ private Instagram stories on Monday 6th April, which were described by some as “inciting violence against people of a different political persuasion”.
However, in statements released today, DWA, DIFS and DPOCA condemned criticism of Twins, claiming the publication of her post represented “targeted misogynoir” and an “infringement of privacy”.
The DWA-DIFS joint statement referred to the “blatant racism” of Twins’ critics, condemning the “entitlement and structural privilege of the individual that made them feel like they can twist her words and use it to propagate their hollow, performative politics”, noting that “no other person has been targeted in this manner on such a big fb [sic] group”.
In a statement posted to Facebook this afternoon, DPOCA’s Executive Committee said: “The post was nothing but an attempt to attack a black woman for speaking out against the systematic violence she has faced as a result of certain institutions and bodies of power. The attempts to dismiss this and accuse her of being a perpetrator of violence on such a public platform, once again, is indicative of the privileged and the entitlement she was talking about.
“What is worse, was the refusal to acknowledge the implications of this post on Seun’s well-being during this whole incident; traumatising black women is not something you should be entertained by.”
Twins’ election to the role of 2020-21 DSU President was already the subject of controversy after an investigation by the Students’ Union resulted in the disqualification of all votes cast in favour of Re-Open Nominations (RON), which accounted for 58% of first-preference votes.
However, the DPOCA statement said: “The decision made by the SU to disregard RON or the dissatisfaction that you have with the SU is NOT an excuse to direct such personal attacks towards one individual who has done nothing but try and mediate and reassure those who were spearheading the RON campaign.”
Earlier this year, incumbent DSU President Kate McIntosh spoke out against an “ingrained culture that permits misogyny, harassment and disrespect.”
Faced with a proposed motion of censure, McIntosh wrote: “I’m just the next in a line of women student leaders called bossy, manipulative, overly opinionated or ‘unsavoury’.”
Image: Seun Twins