The Oxford University Vice-Chancellor said it isn’t her job to make LGBTI students feel comfortable.
Her statements have shocked students.
Professor Louise Richardson made the controversial claims while speaking at the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit.
She explained she has had ‘many conversations’ with students who don’t feel comfortable because their teacher has expressed homophobic views.
Then she added: ‘And I say, “I’m sorry, but my job isn’t to make you feel comfortable. Education is not about being comfortable. I’m interested in making you uncomfortable.”‘
Students do not ‘have a right not to be offended’, claims Professor Richardson. She says university is the place for meeting people with different opinions.
She believes if a student doesn’t like their teacher’s view, ‘you challenge them, engage with them, and figure how a smart person can have views like that.’
“Work out how you can persuade him to change his mind. It is difficult, but it is absolutely what we have to do.”
The Oxford University LGBTQ Society and Oxford University SU LGBTQ Campaign have both responded to the Vice-Chancellor’s comments.
‘Angered and dismayed’
The university’s LGBTQ society posted a statement on their Facebook. They explained: ‘Such comments clearly indicate that she condones university staff members and academics expressing homophobic views towards students. This is incredibly concerning considering Oxford University has one of the highest LGBTQ+ proportion of students in the UK.
‘The LGBTQ+ Society understands and recognizes the opportunity to debate varying opinions and how such discussion can have positive outcomes.
‘However, The LGBTQ+ Society does not support the direct discrimination of minority to the detriment of student wellbeing. Such comments have no place in tutorials where students should be learning and discussing the content of their degrees.’
The Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign are ‘angered and dismayed by Vice-Chancellor Richardson’s comments.’
They added: ‘While we recognize that individuals are entitled to personal views and opinions, we see no way in which these are relevant to an academic context, and believe that the expression of such views has detrimental effects which go far beyond making students feel “uncomfortable.”‘
GSN has reached out to Oxford University.