15 April 2013
The University of Leicester announced that it will launch an inquiry into an on-campus event, hosted last month by the student Islamic Society, which featured gender-segregated seating and separate entrances for males and females. The event, a talk entitled, “Does God Exist?,” featured Hamza Tzortzis, a lecturer on Islam. Mr. Tzortzis was also a participant in the 9 March debate at the University of London which garnered attention for a similar segregated seating policy, though that policy was abandoned after Professor Lawrence Krauss threatened to walk out of the debate.
Regarding the matter, the Guardian is reporting that a spokesman for the University of Leicester said, “The University of Leicester does not permit enforced segregation at public events. The university will investigate whether entrances to the hall for this event were segregated by the society and will ensure there is no recurrence of this.” A statement on the Islamic Society’s website stating that all events hosted by the society adhere to a strict gender-segregated seating policy was recently taken down. However, a note under the “Weekly Activities” section of the group’s “About Us” page says that all classes put on by the group will be fully gender-segregated.
As was the case with the University of London debate, one of the central issues regarding the University of Leicester talk is to what extent the gender-segregation was forced on attendees. The Daily Mail reports that gender-segregation was indeed forced on students, while an official for the University of Leicester claimed that, to his knowledge, the seating policy was not made mandatory. Said the official: “If there is evidence of enforced segregation, that would be a matter the university and students’ union would investigate.”