Racial insensitivity and cultural appropriation have left members of the team feeling ‘ostracised’Written by Grace Duncan on 16th May 2018
Toby Young Resigns from Office of Students
The controversial Spectator columnist, who had been appointed to run the Office for Students (OfS), has stood down after a petition calling for him to be sacked gained over 200,000 signatures and a student investigation revealed his attendance at a secret conference on eugenics and intelligence.
Writing in the Spectator, Young claimed to have resigned from the OfS because his appointment had ‘become a distraction from its vital work of broadening access to higher education and defending academic freedom’. He called his representation in the press a ‘caricature’ and apologised for his previous comments which he said were ‘either ill-judged or just plain wrong’.
He was one of six members newly appointed to the 15-member board of the OfS in the new year. The OfS is replacing the Higher Education Funding Council for England as the regulator of universities, being responsible for holding universities to account over issues such as vice chancellor pay, free speech, and providing high quality education to students.
Young originally came under fire for a number of misogynistic tweets which commented on women’s breasts on television, including those of a Labour MP during Prime Minister’s Questions, and a deleted tweet where he claimed US TV host Padma Lakshmi looked a certain way in a photoshoot with him because ‘I had my dick up her arse’. This was one of up to 40,000 tweets dating from 2009 that Young deleted after his appointment.
He also attacked ‘inclusivity’ as ‘one of those ghastly, politically correct words’, dismissing the idea of having wheelchair ramps and special needs departments in schools in a 2012 column for the Spectator. He also once described students from working class backgrounds coming to Oxford as ‘small, vaguely deformed undergraduates
“Either ill-judged or just plain wrong
Prime Minister Theresa May highlighted his work in setting up free schools in an interview with Andrew Marr, but said that she had not known about his controversial comments before his appointment and was ‘not at all impressed’ but did not say she would remove him.[…] replete with acne and anoraks’.
The saga took a turn on Monday 8th January when a story was broken by Student Newspaper London Student that Young had been attending secret meetings on eugenics. ‘The London Conference on Intelligence’ started in 2014 and has held four meetings at University College London (UCL), London Student revealed. They claimed Young had attended alongside a eugenicist and child-rape proponent, as well as multiple white supremacists. Young resigned the following day.
“'Tory cronyism could not save his job'
Universities Minister Jo Johnson continued to defend Young after his resignation, tweeting that ‘Toby Young's track record setting up and supporting free schools speaks for itself’.
Labour MP Angela Rayner, however, tweeted that ‘the Toby Young saga has cast great doubt on the judgment of the PM who failed to sack him in the first place’. She added that ‘Tory cronyism could not save his job’. David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, reacted to Young’s appointment on twitter saying ‘I thought it was New Year’s Day not April Fool’s Day.’ Young’s appointment was labelled a ‘serious mistake’ by Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable.