The Phil has received criticism as it saw a speaker in its weekly chamber debate use “the n-word”. The incident occurred during last night’s debate, which was entitled “This House Supports Absolute Free Speech”.
According to students who attended the event, the comment was met with objection in the debating chamber. It also saw criticism on social media yesterday evening. The Facebook live stream video of the debate was subsequently deleted.
Commenting to Trinity News on the issue, President of the Phil Sorcha Ryder noted that “the Phil plans our weekly debates in such a way as to give both established speakers, and inexperienced speakers, particularly first years, a chance to take part”. As a result of this, she noted pointed out that “it is impossible for us to obtain what our speakers are going to say during their speeches in advance”.
According to Ryder, the Phil “does not in any way condone what was said last night”. She recalled that when “the speaker, a first year, included that in their speech, it came as a huge shock and was objected to by many people in the room”. This included the “entire council, other speakers, and members of the audience”.
She also pointed out that various attendees “called the speaker in question out on what was said at the end of the Debate”. She attributed the removal of the Facebook livestream to “remain in line with our equity policies, as we do not wish to broadcast content which contains offensive and hateful terms to our members”.
She also said that the society had “accepted this speaker’s offer to not attend or participate in our debates in the future”. Alongside this, Ryder noted that they “will be considering further punitive measures as in accordance with our laws”. They are also investigating “positive steps to ensure something like this does not happen again”.
She also said that “[the Phil] sincerely apologise for what was said and the offence that was caused by the speaker”. Concluding her remarks, Ryder noted that “[the Phil] have plans to include equity briefings in all our debate sign ups, and will be discussing our equity policies at future chamber debating workshops”.
The incident follows a tumultuous year so far for the Phil, with a debate on “This House Believes Middle Eastern Women Need Western Feminism” cancelled after a number of complaints were made. There have also been reports of sexism among committee members and the society announcing guests who had not agreed to appear at the society.