Sussex Uni trans row professor to join university dedicated to free speech

Kathleen Stock had faced calls to resign amid her views on gender identity
Kathleen Stock had faced calls to resign amid her views on gender identity
Charlie Bayliss

By Charlie Bayliss

Published: 08/11/2021

- 19:10

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 10:19

Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy, has been invited to join the newly-launched University of Austin which will be dedicated to 'the fearless pursuit of truth'

A professor who quit the University of Sussex amid a row over her views on gender identity has accepted a role at a new university in America.

Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy, has been invited to be a faculty fellow at the newly-launched University of Austin in Texas which will be dedicated to “the fearless pursuit of truth”.

Prof Stock announced she would be leaving the University of Sussex last month after a “horrible time”.

Her decision came after an anonymous group, reportedly set up by students, launched a campaign to get her sacked amid accusations of transphobia.

On Monday, Prof Stock tweeted: “Delighted to be invited to be a Founding Faculty Fellow of the University of Austin, a new initiative announced today by @bariweiss alongside several other stellar individuals. I accepted with alacrity. It’s an exciting looking project, focused on free inquiry.”

But she added: “This doesn’t mean I’m moving to Austin. And it’s not a full-time role. Just getting involved in various ways from a UK base.”

In a post on journalist Bari Weiss’ Substack newsletter, former president of St John’s College in Annapolis Pano Kanelos said he set up the institution to fix America’s “fractured” higher education system.

Referring to incidents like Prof Stock’s resignation, he wrote: “We had thought such censoriousness was possible only under oppressive regimes in distant lands. But it turns out that fear can become endemic in a free society.

“It can become most acute in the one place—the university—that is supposed to defend ‘the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.’”

According to the launch website, the institution does not yet offer degrees and it is in the process of securing land in the Austin area for a campus.

It plans to offer MA programmes from autumn 2022 and launch the undergraduate college in 2024.

Posters calling for Prof Stock to be fired were put up near the University of Sussex campus last month, and an image emerged of a campaigner holding a banner saying: “Stock Out.”

In her first interview since resigning, Prof Stock described the impact of the targeted campaign as “some sort of surreal, terrible anxiety dream”.

She told BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour last week that she “turned around, ran back up to the train station, hyperventilating and got the first train I could home” when she saw the targeted posters.

In January, hundreds of academics criticised the decision to make Prof Stock an OBE for services to higher education in the New Year Honours List.

In the open letter, the philosophers condemned academics who use their status to “further gender oppression” and said they denounced “transphobia in all its forms”.

Prof Stock has previously said she is “at odds” with some academics as she believes gender identity is not more important than facts about biological sex “particularly when it comes to law and policy”.

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