To the signatories of the CUSU Women’s Campaign “Disinvite Dominique Strauss-Kahn” petition:
Thank you for your letter. The Union is always open to receiving feedback on its work. We would like to respond to the issues raised in your message.
Firstly, we must state that the Union will not be rescinding its invitation to Mr Strauss-Kahn. The Society has been inviting him to address our members for several years, given his economic knowledge as then head of the IMF, and his experience of French politics. He was not invited after or as a result of the circumstances surrounding his departure from the IMF. We would like to add that the purpose of the Union is to provide a neutral platform for free speech. We use no selection criteria when inviting speakers other than that they are interesting people whom our members would want to hear speak and whom they would like a chance to challenge and question. An invitation to the Union does not imply support or endorsement, or indeed disapproval, on the part of the Society or any of the individuals in it. We invite people to speak at the Union regardless of their ideology, background or personal history. We feel Mr Strauss-Kahn is exceptionally well qualified to speak on some of the most prominent international headlines of 2012, namely the global financial crisis and the French Presidential election, and so we believe he will give a pertinent and interesting speech.
We would also like to address your statement that “little has changed” with regards to the Union’s approach to women’s rights, as we believe this is untrue. The Union recently created the position of Women’s Officer in order to support female welfare and interests in the Society, and has been working closely with the CUSU Women’s Officer to try to address these issues as effectively as possible. This is a very difficult issue and we cannot expect immediate transformation.
Finally, we would like to respond to your suggestion for a joint event between the Society and the Women’s Campaign to be held at the Union on International Women’s Day on the subject of women and sexual violence. We would have been more than happy to look at a more detailed proposal for such an event, but organising events at the Union normally takes several months. It is a shame, and slightly confusing, that such a suggestion has only come forward now when the Union asked the CUSU Women’s Officer for any such suggestions in the summer vacation and had it been raised then we would have been delighted to arrange it.
The Cambridge Union Lent 2012 Officers