Sunday 16 December 2018

DCU Students' Union condemns 'rapist' Mike Tyson’s visit

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Dublin City University’s Students' Union has spoken out against convicted rapist Mike Tyson’s visit to on-campus-venue, the Helix.

The former world heavyweight champion is due to appear in the Helix’s Mahony Hall for their sold out event ‘An Evening with Mike Tyson’, but the representative body for the students of DCU, where the Helix is situated, has criticised the event.

Tyson has been labelled ‘the baddest man on the planet’ and has a considerable fan base but his career was shrouded in contention after he was found guilty of raping 18-year-old Desiree Washington in 1982, when he was 25.

DCU Students' Union President Vito Maloney Burke told Independent.ie that regardless of the stature of the guest, inviting a convicted rapist to a university campus cannot be condoned. 

“Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist,” he said.

“At the end of the day and no matter who the individual in question is, I don’t think that it’s good enough to be invited onto a University campus by a commercial body, but regardless, it’s supposed to be a space where students are comfortable.

“This kind of horrendous act is not tolerated, so that’s where we stand with that.”

Mr Maloney Burke said that the visit of the 52-year-old former boxer is a major set-back for the Students' Union, who spent the year raising awareness around consent on campus.

"It’s a pity. We were really a bit deflated when we saw it come through,” he said.

“A lot of work has gone in across the university with the likes of the smart consent workshop. There has been a major push to foster a culture of safety and awareness and ongoing conversation was very much welcomed and encouraged and that fosters down from the university.

“The consent workshops were done in conjunction with the two, so for this to have come about, it is a pity.”

DCU recently hit the headlines after it emerged that the Accounting and Finance society had engaged in several hazing initiations with their prospective first year representatives. Among the acts that participants were forced to take part in if they wanted to become a society representative were, kissing each other, simulating sexual positions, breaking up with their partners over the phone on loud speaker and stripping.

Mr Maloney Burke said that the incidents offer an opportunity for a conversation to happen about consent.

“The concerns are always there and I think it would be irresponsible for them not to be there,” he said.

“The situation like what happened in the last few weeks; I think very much that they have to be used as another message of making people aware. All we can do is use situations like this to once again reaffirm how much it just can’t be tolerated and to really keep the conversation going.

“What happened a few weeks ago very much was another awareness drive and people who may not have been so aware or engaged in conversations about consent woke up to consent. I think actually in the long run what happened a few weeks ago will get a lot more people talking about consent than there has been.”

The Helix described Mike Tyson as having “one of the most amazing life stories you will hear, from humble beginnings in Catskills New York to becoming the youngest Heavyweight Champion of all time” and called the event unmissable.

Marketing manager for the venue, Louise Phelan, told Independent.ie that the Helix does not book acts themselves but rather uses third party promoters and that they did not organise the event which will take place tonight at 8.15pm.

“The Helix is purely a receiving house, we deal only in hires so we book our events based on date availability and the box office demand,” she explained.

“The vast majority of speakers acts and performances that take place here, that would include the Mike Tyson event, they’re engaged and booked by third-party promoters, we would never have invited him to come to campus.”

Ms Phelan opted not to comment on whether the Helix could have refused the event.

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