Abertay University student cleared of offensive' and 'discriminatory' comments

A student who was investigated following complaints that she had made “offensive” and “discriminatory” comments in class has been cleared by Abertay University.

Law student Lisa Keogh, 29, was investigated after classmates complained that she had stated during lectures that women were born with vaginas and “the difference in physical strength of men versus women is a fact”.

She has now received a letter from the university stating that charges would not be upheld due to “insufficient evidence” to support the allegations.

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The university pointed out the allegations were not in relation to her personal opinions, but to alleged behaviour in class, including in some online breakout rooms.

Lisa Keogh was investigated for comments she made during lectures.

Ms Keogh said she was “overjoyed about the decision.

She said: “Yesterday [Tuesday] I received a letter from Abertay University dismissing all the complaints made against me. This is a victory.

"As overjoyed as I am about this decision, I am saddened that I went through this at such a critical time in my university career.

"The very end of my period at Abertay is now tarnished with these bad memories and I worry that my final grades will have been affected by this. I will not feel comfortable attending any graduation event.

Lisa Kegh is a law student at Abertay University

“Although Abertay has decided I’m innocent of all charges, the ordeal I have been through has been a punishment in itself.

"I hope that Abertay University can learn from this experience and not put other students through a similar ordeal just for voicing their opinions.

"While I may no longer be a student at the university, it is still vital to me that others have the opportunity to take part in lively open debates without worrying about being punished afterwards. If Abertay just carries on as before, this journey will have been for no good reason.”

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She added: “Although Abertay denies this, it was my gender critical views that led to me being investigated by the university and this should never have happened. I know the university has a duty to investigate all complaints, but to draw this process out for two months while I was taking my final exams was needlessly cruel.

"The university should put a process in place that will enable it to judge what complaints need to be investigated and which ones can be dismissed immediately because they’re vexatious and politically motivated.”

The letter said: “On reviewing the evidence available, including witness statements, class recordings and chat transcript, the board found no evidence that you had discriminated against another member of the university, the board found that you had not intentionally shouted in class.”

It added: “As a result, the board found that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations made against you on your behaviour in class and therefore decided to not uphold the charge of misconduct.”

Ms Keogh had previously said she was “utilising her right to free speech”.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who had supported Ms Keogh during the investigation, said: "I’m pleased at this outcome. But Lisa should never have been put through this ordeal in the first place and the university should review its free speech and equality policies to make sure that future students are not subject to the stress of spurious complaints nor discriminated against, harassed or victimised for their beliefs."

Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, said: “I’m delighted that the complaints against Lisa have been dismissed, but the university should not have taken two months to reach this conclusion.

"It should have been obvious that the complaints against her were due to her gender critical views, not the manner in which she expressed them. In a seminar on gender, feminism and the law, there should be room for a range of views, from militant trans activism to traditional feminism.

“Lisa deserves a huge amount of credit for standing up for herself. The path of least resistance would have been to apologise and renounce her heretical belief, but instead she fought her corner.

"Thanks to her courage, there is now space for a broader range of views at Abertay – it is no longer taboo to defend sex-based women’s rights.”

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