The Warwick Atheist society has successfully appealed the Societies Federation decision to revoke its Best New Society award, following a controversial poster shown a week after they won the prize.
The society had received the title after a year of ‘successful inter-faith debate and mutual respect’.
The publicity campaign depicted someone throwing religious symbols into a bin and said, ‘it’s time to take out the trash.’ This led to numerous complaints.
Yet, whilst the Society has had its award returned, it was unanimously decided that the fine would remain.
Mike Pidgeon, the Students’ Union Communications Officer, spoke to the Boar about this result. Pidgeon said that the Union never wants to have to intervene with the Societies unless there is something “hugely offensive”, as was the case in this instance.
He also asserted that the society had been voted Best New Society for a reason. He claimed that the society had held well-attended debates with the other religious societies, and had done “a lot of good work over the year”. He said that his personal opinion in the matter was that giving the award back was a fair result, considering their earlier contribution. He also agreed with the decision to retain the fine due to the offense caused to others and the fact it had broken the rules.
Stuart Pinbrow, the current President of the Atheist society, said that he felt this was a successful result. Following the controversy, he promised the Boar that there would be a more rigorous filtering process in their publicity from now on. He also said that the Society’s publicity officer would be sent to equal opportunity training along with their equal opportunities officer in order to ensure such events do not occur again. Pinbrow also stated that the society never meant to offend specific religions and they had not thought that it would cause as much offence as it had. He said: “thank you to the SU for listening to our appeal” and also stressed the society has learned its lesson.