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Lancashire University suspended Black students who blew whistle on racism

Two Black students have spoken out after being suspended from the University of Central Lancashire for sharing details of racist incidents on campus.

Drama students Elizabeth and Jemima posted online about their white peer who had a racial slur – the n-word – and swastika written across his chest during a drinking game.

The viral posts came after they complained to the university three months ago. But they were allegedly ignored, the pair told The Independent.

In response to the social media posts, university leaders told the Black students on Monday that they had been suspended for bringing the organisation into disrepute while an investigation into the racism complaints against their white peer remains ongoing.

On Instagram last Friday, Elizabeth posted a photo showing a male student with “I hate n****s” and a Nazi symbol both written in red lipstick, along with images of the same student dressed in blackface in a school play.

In the photo caption, she accused university staff of failing to take action.

“Honestly I’m not coping very well, the thought of losing my degree and being expelled is so scary, especially if we don’t get justice then we would have done all this for nothing. The whole situation is very anxiety-inducing and nerve-racking,” the student told The Independent.

“Staff members failed in their safeguarding duties, particularly towards Black students like us who witnessed the student’s behaviour and raised concerns about its racist nature.

“I am shocked by the nonchalance of everyone involved, from the tutors, the students, the perpetrators and the uni itself. People turning a blind eye and preferring to ignore blatant racism, instead of confronting it and taking the appropriate steps,” she added.

Pointing out the university’s statement of anti-racist solidarity, posted on its website after George Floyd’s murder in 2020, the students said it ought to honour its pledge to support Black students by taking swift action to address the complaints.

Though the university was informed by the students of their intent to go public about the issue if staff did not address the matter, they did not indicate that it was in breach of any rules, the pair said. According to the institution’s guidelines, student behaviour that “results in the damage of its reputation” is prohibited.

The unnamed University of Central Lancashire student claimed the words were drawn by his girlfriend, who is Black, and insisted he “had no control over what was written.”

He said the incident happened after his girlfriend was asked to “write the most offensive thing possible” as part of their drinking game, and said he did not consent to the photo.

Speaking to The Independent, Jemima said that, like Elizabeth, she is “desensitised” to the university’s “continued” failure to effectively challenge racism on campus as her complaints about other matters have also not been addressed.

(The Tab/SWNS)
“This is a slap in the face and not what I hoped would come out of this. The university was made aware of this issue, we reported it in line with their policy and no action was taken until we, essentially, called them out publicly,” she said.

Lancashire Police confirmed the incident has been reported and is being investigated.

The incident happened after the government’s equality watchdog previously warned that universities are failing to address tens of thousands of racist incidents every year partly because the institutions are in denial about and unable to handle the scale of the problem.

A spokesperson for the university said: “At the University of Central Lancashire we do not condone any form of racism, harassment, bullying or hate crime and our ethos is for everyone to treat each other with respect. We take matters such as this very seriously and have been carrying out a number of investigations into all aspects of this case.

“As soon as we were made aware of the issue we took immediate steps to investigate. It would not be appropriate to share the details of the case nor breach the confidentiality of the individuals involved as we deal with this matter.”

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