Sara Ahmed’s resignation from her position at Goldsmiths at the end of May 2016 shocked us. As a group of Goldsmiths students we were saddened and confused why a professor whose work is so important to us and many others would have to resign in protest “against the failure to address the problem of sexual harassment”. We read the letter by Goldsmiths Feminist Students and shared its sentiment, yet we wished we too had had the chance to have her as a teacher and mentor. We followed Sara’s further blog posts and reading “Speaking Out” in the hope of being able to put together pieces of the puzzle. She asked, “How do these cases disappear without a trace?” and she says “But we must still speak: the silence is what is damaging.” For us, the silence is almost all that we have.
When Goldsmiths released a statement on sexual harassment soon after in June and we followed the reactions on Twitter. These reactions made it clear that the act of clearing things up was beginning to fall apart.
We read Dr Leila Whitley’s statement on “How Sexual Harassment Disappears” and shuddered to read what had been submitted to the strategic misogyny blog in the past and wonder what went on at Goldsmiths – despite their own statement – could still be going on now. We discussed how unfair it is that this disappearing act has left a residue of unease for us who only hear rumours on campus and read statements on websites. For many of us who have only been at Goldsmiths long enough to catch a whiff and a hint that “something bad” happened a long time ago, we wondered – “but how long ago? and what really happened? and why has it apparently “disappeared” though it seems to haunt us again and again?”
We are at university because we are curious and because we want to learn. We have developed skills to learn. Clearly something is being covered up, which makes our desire to learn even stronger.
Clues were not hard to find and our curiosity was rewarded. Where others appear unable to break the silence, we found it possible. In the past few days, one of us made a discovery which we have decided necessary to share on this blog. The following images are taken from inside book covers in Goldsmiths University Library.
Transcription: (variations of)
John Hutnyk sexually harassed students for years whilst at Goldsmiths. He resigned before this could be made public through disciplinary hearing. His politics are not radical.
John Hutnyk sexually harassed students at Goldsmiths for years. He was finally suspended because students forced the university to act. Scott Lash did nothing.
John Hutnyk sexually harassed students at Goldsmiths for years until he was finally suspended and then he resigned before a disciplinary tribunal was held.
John Hutnyk sexually harassed students at Goldsmiths for years before he was caught and suspended. He resigned before a disciplinary hearing was held.
John Hutnyk sexually harassed students at Goldsmiths until 2013 when he was suspended and then he resigned before he could be fired. Read Gopinath’s “Impossible Desires” for her critique of his poor scholarship before you read this book.
John Hutnyk sexually harassed students at Goldsmiths for many years. Students finally got the university to suspend him at which point many more complaints were made. He resigned before he faced a disciplinary tribunal. He is a coward, an abuser and a bully, and a sexual predator.
John Hutnyk sexually harassed students at Goldsmiths for many years until students finally got the university to suspend him in 2013. He resigned because there were a large number of complaints, not because his politics are radical. He is a coward and he abused his position to sexually harass female students.
End of transcriptions.
We read Sara’s blogpost on “Evidence” and although some might debate whether scribbled notes in books can be considered evidence, it is evidence enough for us – it indicates the truth of what went on which cannot be spoken elsewhere. What is written here disgusts us. We gather from the other sources that what is disclosed here is at least part of what has been covered up. By publishing these photos here, we demand from Goldsmiths to come clean with the truth of what happened. We, as students of the university, deserve to know what happened and whether any of the perpetrators remain at the university. In solidarity with our fellow Goldsmiths students before us, we require no information on the individual students – they have suffered enough. We want transparency over how and why the scandal was covered up. We demand assurance that what happened in the past cannot happen again in the future. We demand assurance that if it happens again we will not be treated as others have been treated for speaking out. We do not suppose that sexual harassment is unique to Goldsmiths, but we are angry, frustrated and dismayed that Goldsmiths’ failure to address sexual harassment led to the resignation of Sara Ahmed. If an institution such as Goldsmiths cannot understand that we came to this institution as it promised us something “radically” different to a white, heteronormative patriarchal learning environment, then it is has failed miserably in showing us it can.
We will continue to gather evidence and demand the truth from Goldsmiths.
*****WE ARE A GROUP OF STUDENTS INDEPENDENTLY INVESTIGATING THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT COVER-UP AT GOLDSMITHS. WE ARE NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY EXISTING GROUPS, RESEARCHERS OR TEACHING STAFF*****