Open Letter to UCL on the subject of the 2017 Housman Lecture by Judith Butler held in a wheelchair-inaccessible lecture theatre, signed below by 66 academics, activists and allies.

Dear UCL faculty and administrators,

We are writing to protest the holding of the 2017 Housman Lecture by Judith Butler in a lecture theatre that is not wheelchair accessible. We are disabled people and non-disabled allies, academics and alumni and other interested parties. We object to the marginalising of bodies from this event, specifically the prevention of mobility-impaired people from attending, particularly in the light of Judith Butler’s focus on bodies and her own interest in disability and disability studies.

While we understand that it may be too late to move the venue, we hope that UCL will consider disability equality in your locating of important lectures in the future, specifically in light of your duties under the Equality Act 2010, under which you are required to make reasonable adjustments for disability access at all public events held by the university, including providing access information in advance.

How does that materialization of the norm in bodily formation produce a domain of abjected bodies, a field of deformation, which in failing to qualify as the fully human, fortifies those regulatory norms? What challenge does that excluded and abjected realm produce to a symbolic hegemony that might force a radical rearticulation of what qualifies as bodies that matter, ways of living that count as “life,” lives worth protecting, lives worth saving, lives worth grieving?

-Judith Butler (Bodies That Matter, 1997, 15)

Yours faithfully,

Naomi Lawson Jacobs, PhD candidate, SOAS, University of London; disabled academic prevented from attending

Emma Sheppard, PhD researcher, Edge Hill University; disabled academic

Sarah Meehan O’Callaghan, PhD candidate, SALIS department, Dublin City University; disabled academic, wheelchair user

Zara Bain, University of Bristol, Department of Philosophy; founder of PhDisabled website

Cat Smith, PhD candidate, University of the Arts, London; disabled academic, wheelchair user

Dr Sarah Whitfield, Senior Lecturer in Musical Theatre, University of Wolverhampton; disabled academic

Dr Alison Sheldon, Centre for Disability Studies, School of Sociology & Social Policy, University of Leeds; disabled academic

Professor Jackie Leach Scully, Newcastle University, disabled academic.

Esther Leighton, University of Cambridge student, former Cambridge University Union Disabled Students Officer; disabled person

Risteárd McDhòmhnaill, SOAS, University of London; disabled postgraduate student

Anna Ward, University of Cambridge; disabled student

Eleanor Lisney, alum: University of Kent, Open University, and Birmingham City University; founder member and coordinator of Sisters of Frida, Disabled Women’s CIC

Kabie Brook, Chairperson, Autism Rights Group Highland

Kirsten Hearn MA (RCA), Goldsmiths University of London School of Art and Royal College of Art alum.; disabled activist

Elinor Hadaway, University of Cambridge (Pembroke College) alum; disabled person

Erynn Rowan Laurie, poet, disabled veteran

Sharon-Anne Bateman, disabled person

Jess Glenny

Louise Hickman, PhD candidate, University of California, San Diego; disabled academic, wheelchair user

Emily Harford

Rev. Kate Rowley Harford, UCL Institute of Archaeology alum.

Kenneth McGowan, IoE alum.

Theodora Wildcroft, PhD candidate, Religious Studies, Open University

Professor Martin Paul Eve, Birkbeck, University of London

Nick Watson, Professor of Disability Research, University of Glasgow

Wendy Dossett, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Chester

Christina Welch, Senior Fellow (Knowledge Exchange) in Religious Studies, University of Winchester

Dr Helen Bowes-Catton, Lecturer in Social Research Methods, Graduate School, The Open University

Sian Hawthorne, Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS University of London

Kate Sang, Department of Social Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Dr. Lauren Cagle, University of Kentucky

Dr Jane Dryden, Department of Philosophy, Mount Allison University, Canada

Maria Niedernhuber, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge

Jennifer Uzzell, PhD candidate, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University

Gillian Loomes, PhD candidate, University of York

Karen O’Brien-Kop, PhD candidate, Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS, University of London

Jenny Haricot, PhD student, Department of English, University of Cambridge

Talitha Kearey, PhD student, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge

Charlotte Geater, PhD student, University of Kent

Clare Stainthorp, Visiting Lecturer, University of Birmingham

Dr Marika Rose, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Winchester

Jon Greenaway, Manchester Metropolitan University

Rebecca Linnett, Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University

Ada Cable, Goldsmiths, University of London

Yiyun Teo, Goldsmiths, University of London

Liz Wllliams FHEA MA (Cantab) LLM, St. John’s College Cambridge and University of East London alum., author of ‘Complete Tort Law’ (OUP)

Ginger Drage, University College London alum.

Pauline Pitchford, University of Glasgow alum.

Yvonne Aburrow, Mobile App Developer, Oxford Brookes University, MA, Bath Spa University, PGCE, King’s College London, BSc Hons, University of Lancaster

Lucya Szachnowski, University of Kent alum.

Alison Robertson, PhD candidate, Religious Studies, Open University

Aled Thomas, PhD candidate, Religious Studies, Open University

Ricky Gellissen LLM in Gender, Sexuality & Human Rights, Keele University alum.

Jonathan Williams, UCL alum.

Ruth Wajsblum, University of the West of England alum.

Dan Waterfield, Queens’ College Cambridge, PhD student History Dept.

Thomas Hurlock, Camberwell College of Arts alum.

Noelia Rodriguez

Steve Graby, PhD candidate, University of Leeds

Dr Sophie Gamwell, De Montford University, Department of Human Resource Management

Rafael Young, Open University, RNCM alum; Open University Student Association Disabled Students Group member

Stephanie Hamrick, disabled writer

Naomi Hooke, Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology

Dr Kat Gupta, Oxford Brookes University

Kristin Snoddon, Assistant Professor, School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University, Canada

Kavita Maya, PhD candidate, Department of Religions and Philosophies, SOAS, University of London

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