Feminist philosophy professor Kathleen Stock has announced that she is to leave her position at the University of Sussex. Stock had been considered one of the leading gender-critical feminist academics in the UK, but she has faced relentless criticism and harassment for her views over the last number of years.
Michelle Donelan, Minister of State for Higher Education, said that “it is a sad day for freedom of speech…no academic should ever have to fear for their personal safety.” In early October, the Times reported that Stock had been “urged to get bodyguards”, and to install a camera in her home, by police after threats against Stock’s life were shared on social media.
It is a sad day for freedom of speech – given the toxic environment at @sussexuni has made it untenable for @docstockk to maintain her position there. No academic should ever have to fear for their personal safety.
— Michelle Donelan MP (@michelledonelan) October 28, 2021
Minister Donelan added that “the sustained campaign of harassment and intimidation she has faced is deplorable and the situation should never have got this far.”
In January of this year, when Stock was awarded an OBE for services to higher education, hundreds of academics signed an open letter condemning her and saying that she had used her academic status to “further gender oppression.”
Stock said that she was “sad to announce” that she’d be leaving the university, and that “this has been a very difficult few year.” She added that “this has been an absolutely horrible time for me and my family. I’m putting it behind me now. On to brighter things soon, I hope.” Stock thanked the University of Sussex for their support of her, saying “the leadership’s approach more recently has been admirable and decent. I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this.”
1) Sad to announce I’m leaving @SussexUni. Here’s the University statement. This has been a very difficult few years, but the leadership’s approach more recently has been admirable and decent. I hope that other institutions in similar situations can learn from this. https://t.co/eaYDERr03z
— Kathleen Stock (@Docstockk) October 28, 2021
Adam Tickell, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, has written to the staff of the university to say that they regret the resignation of Professor Stock and that they “thank her for her vital contributions to the University and the field of philosophy.” Tickell said that “The University has been consistent and clear that everyone in our community has the right to work and learn, free from bullying and harassment of any kind, which has not been the case for Professor Stock.”
One of the groups which had been agitating for the sacking of Professor Stock celebrated the news of her resignation by posting a picture of a witch with the caption “Ding dong the witch is dead” imposed over it.
The Instagram group which led the bullying & harassment of Professor Kathleen Stock celebrated with this. Tell me more about that “right side of history”… pic.twitter.com/NIZ5uBgUDd
— Janice Turner (@VictoriaPeckham) October 28, 2021