Exeter student threatened with expulsion for saying ‘veganism is wrong’ in own dorm room

Robert Ivinson had a disciplinary hearing after another student overheard his private phone call

The University of Exeter reportedly threatened to expel a philosophy student after his next-door neighbour in halls reported him for making “offensive” comments.

Robert Ivinson was overheard saying “gender fluidity is stupid” and “veganism is wrong” whilst on a private phone conversation with a friend in his bedroom.

The comments he made were reported to Exeter University as “offensive” and “transphobic” in 2018, resulting in Robert being put on a “behavioural contract” throughout the rest of his studies, Daily Mail reports.

Fearing repercussions, Robert, who is now undergoing a Master’s at The University of Exeter, said he had felt unable to speak up about his experience during his undergraduate years.

Subsequently, he was put before a disciplinary hearing and questioned over the comments he had made. He told the Mail on Sunday about the university representative who informed him of the complaints against him: “It was like the Stasi had come to my door.”

Speaking about his disbelief on hearing why he was being disciplined, he said: “The first thing they read out was that I had said veganism is wrong. I couldn’t believe it – I thought I was mishearing them. I asked them to repeat it three or four times because I didn’t believe I was sitting there for saying that veganism is wrong.”

Robert was brought to see university officials and put on a “behavioural contract” for the remainder of his degree at Exeter because of the comments he made.

He was later informed by post that he had been found guilty of harassment and was warned that he would be expelled if he breached anymore of the University of Exeter’s rules.

Mr Ivinson had apologised to Exeter officials for the disturbance but explained he maintained his right to speak freely in his own room, arguing that his phone conversation with a friend “was totally private apart from that someone heard me through a brick wall.”

He had also attempted to challenge the decision by the university but claimed that his attempts were dismissed. Playing out at the same time as a family bereavement incident resulted in Robert suffering from depression.

When interviewed, he said: “It hurts me that in this country freedom of speech can now mean so little. It’s shocking that a Russell Group university can act this way”.

The University of Exeter has been approached for comment.

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