Katie Hopkins: Brunel University students stage mass walk out of debate during columnist's speech

 Students protested against Hopkins' inclusion on a panel debating the welfare state 

Heather Saul@heatheranne9
Thursday 26 November 2015 10:52
Brunel students walk out on Katie Hopkins

Many people have wondered how best to deal with Katie Hopkins and her often offensive views that inevitably receive so much attention.

On Monday, students at Brunel University demonstrated one way of shutting her down when they filled a theatre for a debate featuring Hopkins and then turned their backs to her as soon as she began speaking.

The controversial columnist has ramped up her provocative statements in recent months. Her most infamous column dehumanised refugees by comparing them to cockroaches and led for calls for her sacking in the wake of the refugee crisis.

She repeated her calls for boats carrying refugees to Europe to be sent back as she appeared at the Ukip conference in September.

Hopkins joined a panel at the university for the debate, ’Does the Welfare State have a place in 2015?’ as part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Students in the audience stood up and turned their back to her as she began to speak and then walked out of the auditorium.

Joe Nicell, Brunel SU's communications manager, told The Independent about 50 people walked out. He said objections to her speaking were first raised by students in October and the protest had been planned for some time. "It was mainly that we didn't feel that she fitted the debate and she wasn’t the right person to be speaking," he said.

Ali Milani, the President of Brunel’s student union, condemned Hopkins as the “physical manifestation of online trolls” and accused her of having no “valuable intellectual insight” to add to the debate.

In a piece addressing the protest, he said: “The inclusion of Ms Hopkins has been met with widespread outcry from the student body and the Students’ Union.

“It is important to note that the conversation at no point has been about banning Ms Hopkins from speaking on campus, or denying her right to speak. It is instead about saying it is distasteful and incongruous for our University, as part of a 50th celebration event, to provide a platform to someone who adds nothing to the intellectual or academic discourse; and an individual who publicly utters such overtly bigoted views.”

The Independent has contacted Hopkins for comment.

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