Racial insensitivity and cultural appropriation have left members of the team feeling ‘ostracised’Written by Grace Duncan on 16th May 2018
Petition against ‘fascist’ student gains over 200 signatures
A petition from the Black and Ethnic Minorities' Association (BEMA) seeks the early removal of a final-year student from his course.
Final year Political Science student Emmerson Collier is the subject of an online petition headed 'Fascists out of the University of Birmingham'. 233 signatories 'demand that Emmerson Collier withdraw from the University with immediate effect' on the grounds that he is allegedly a Britain First activist and has formerly had involvement with the far-right British National Party.
BEMA address the petition to University Vice Chancellor David Eastwood and Provost Adam Tickell, urging that the student 'withdraw' from his degree programme 'immediately.'
The petition adds, 'at this point in time we offer him the chance to leave voluntarily but are prepared to take further action upon ourselves if he chooses not to.'
Reaction from students has been mixed. Those that we spoke to were generally opposed to the potential fascist viewpoints condemned by the petition. However, many were uneasy about signing it without having seen evidence of Collier being involved in offensive activism on campus.
Final year English and American Literature student Bryony Snelling added, 'I don't think it's right to personally attack one student. He's being singled out.'
Nevertheless, some liked the idea of the petition as an online platform to share views on the matter. 'Petition is a kind of peaceful protest,' said one student.
A spokesperson from the University told Redbrick: 'The University of Birmingham does not condone or tolerate bullying or harassment of its staff or students.
'While we are unable to comment on individual cases, the University unreservedly condemns the use of websites and petitions to make unsubstantiated claims or to proffer intimidation and threats.
“the University unreservedly condemns the use of websites and petitions to make unsubstantiated claims
'Threats against staff or students are taken extremely seriously and when appropriate are reported to the police. As plural societies, universities are home to many differences of opinion, debate and views. We actively challenge discrimination, bullying and harassment of any kind, as highlighted by the joint Guild and University initiative relating to ‘Harassment is .. Not On’. The University has robust codes of practice and policies against bullying and harassment which will be enforced, where necessary.'
A spokesperson from the Guild of Students said: 'Whilst every individual has the right to freedom of speech and Universities are naturally an idealistic environment, the Guild of Students wholeheartedly condemns fascism of any kind, in any environment - as totally unacceptable.'
He added: 'In line with our zero tolerance policy, the Guild will not tolerate any form of bullying or harassment on campus or in our community. We also condemn the use of online platforms and social media to make unsubstantiated claims, make threats or to intimidate individuals.
'The safety and security of our students is of the up most priority for the Guild and we will not accept any incidences which lead to students living in fear or feeling unsafe on campus. For this reason, we actively encourage all students to make a stance against all forms of harassment, whether on campus or in our community.'
Emmerson Collier did not respond to our attempts to contact him.