Anti-Woke University of Austin Hires Professor Accused of Transphobia

A philosophy professor who recently quit her role at a British university after being accused of transphobia is joining a new Texas college, which aims to fight "illiberalism" on campus.

Kathleen Stock, formerly of the University of Sussex in South England, said she is "delighted" to have been invited to be a founding faculty fellow of the University of Austin (UATX), a new college which was announced on Monday by former New York Times journalist Bari Weiss.

Stock is one of several academics, journalists and scholars who have been named as UATX's fellows or appointed on the board of advisers.

"Delighted to be invited to be a Founding Faculty Fellow of the University of Austin, a new initiative announced today by Bari Weiss, alongside several other stellar individuals. I accepted with alacrity. It's an exciting looking project, focused on free inquiry," Stock tweeted.

"PS I should add to avoid confusion—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."

Stock recently quit her post at Sussex University after saying she was the victim of a "witch hunt" because of her views on gender identity.

In October, a group campaigned for the university to fire Stock over claims she is transphobic, an accusation the professor denies. Stock described how she saw images on social media of "balaclava-wearing figures brandishing flares and banners saying 'Stock Out,'" reported Sky News.

In an October tweet announcing her resignation, Stock said: "This has been an absolutely horrible time for me and my family. I'm putting it behind me now. On to brighter things soon, I hope."

Stock has explained her views on transgender issues in written evidence to British Parliament in November 2020.

"I have written extensively, in both academic and public settings, about the relation between sex and gender identity, arguing among other things that: womanhood and manhood reflect biological sex, not gender or gender identity; the claim 'transwomen are women' is a fiction, not literally true," Stock wrote.

Stock also recently published a book Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism which argues, as she describes in the written evidence, that "spaces where women undress and sleep should remain genuinely single-sex, in order to protect them; and children with gender identity disorders should not be given puberty blockers as minors."

The professor has also been criticized for being a trustee of the LGB Alliance, an activist group that campaigns for rights "based on sexual orientation not gender identity." It has been labeled an anti-trans charity.

In January, hundreds of academics signed an open letter criticizing the decision to hand Stock an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year's Honours list.

"Trans people are already deeply marginalized in society, facing well-documented discrimination, ranging from government policy to physical violence," the letter said.

"Discourse like that Stock is producing and amplifying contributes to these harms, serving to restrict trans people's access to life-saving medical treatments, encourage the harassment of gender-non-conforming people, and otherwise reinforce the patriarchal status quo.

"We are dismayed that the British government has chosen to honour her for this harmful rhetoric."

Following her resignation, the University of Sussex defended Stock while saying that educational facilities must remain places where everyone "has the right to, and benefits from, lawful freedom of speech."

Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell added in a letter to staff: "The University has been consistent and clear that everyone in our community has the right to work and learn, free from bullying and harassment of any kind, which has not been the case for Professor Stock."

Pano Kanelos, the former president of St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, will be UATX's inaugural president.

In a statement written on Weiss' Substack, Kanelos described higher education as the "most fractured" institution in the U.S.

"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," Kanelos wrote. "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.'

"The reality is that many universities no longer have an incentive to create an environment where intellectual dissent is protected and fashionable opinions are scrutinized."

On its website, UATX states that the university is not yet accredited, has no physical campus, is not offering degrees and does not plan to offer an undergraduate degree program until at least 2024. The university is also seeking to raise about $250 million in funding.

Speaking to Newsweek, Heather Heying, an evolutionary biologist who was part of the core group who came up with the concept of UATX, said: "We aim to build a university where people can meet, and play, and argue, and disagree; where the ideas that we discuss are not conflated with the people who are voicing them; and where speech is not conflated with advocacy.

"The world needs institutions of higher ed in which the value of both orthodoxy and heterodoxy are recognized. That which has stood the test of time has value; and that which is yet to come and may sound impossible or crazy in the current moment may prove to be the doorway to a better world."

Writing for Bloomberg Opinion on November 8, Niall Ferguson, a historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said he is helping to launch UATX because "academic freedom dies in wokeness."

He added: "Academic illiberalism is not confined to college campuses. As students collect their degrees and enter the workforce, they inevitably carry some of what they have learned at college with them. Multiple manifestations of 'woke' thinking and behavior at newspapers, publishing houses, technology companies and other corporations have confirmed Andrew Sullivan's 2018 observation, 'We all live on campus now.'"

Newsweek has attempted to contact Stock for comment.

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LGBT activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City. A professor who resigned from a university in England following transphobia allegations has joined a new college in Austin. Drew Angerer/Getty Images