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