Racism out­cry forces stu­dents to can­cel char­ity ‘slave auc­tion’

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner ED­U­CA­TION EDI­TOR

STU­DENTS who planned to hold a “slave auc­tion” for char­ity dur­ing fresh­ers’ week are now un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by uni­ver­sity au­thor­i­ties amid claims it could have been seen as pro­mot­ing racism.

Two events, ti­tled “slave auc­tion” and “slave night”, were ad­ver­tised as part of the en­ter­tain­ment pro­gramme laid on for new stu­dents at Lough­bor­ough Uni­ver­sity dur­ing their first week of term.

The so­cial gath­er­ings – or­gan­ised by Fara­day Hall, one of the uni­ver­sity’s halls of res­i­dence – pro­voked an out­cry from the uni­ver­sity’s African-caribbean So­ci­ety (ACS), which said they showed a “bla­tant dis­re­gard for coloured peo­ple”.

ACS com­mit­tee mem­bers said they were “ap­palled that such atroc­i­ties could be con­doned es­pe­cially dur­ing times of op­pres­sion against eth­nic mi­nor­ity’s [sic] world­wide”.

The fresh­ers’ week com­mit­tee at Fara­day Hall swiftly can­celled the event and apol­o­gised, pledg­ing to “seek fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing” about di­ver­sity.

The “slave auc­tion” has been an an­nual fixture on the fresh­ers’ week cal­en­dar since at least 2012, The Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands. New first year stu­dents bid against one an­other to buy a “slave” for the night, an older stu­dent who car­ries out tasks for them dur­ing the evening. All the pro­ceeds from the auc­tion go to a char­ity, nom­i­nated by the stu­dents.

One Lough­bor­ough Uni­ver­sity stu­dent, who has at­tended the “slave ac­tion” event pre­vi­ously, told The Tele­graph that it was “most cer­tainly not a racist event in any way” and that the furore had been whipped up by “so­cial jus­tice war­riors”.

He said: “Peo­ple are too eas­ily of­fended. I’m not deny­ing that more can be done about so­cial equal­ity in the coun­try and world, but this is the least of [their] wor­ries. There are big­ger so­cial is­sues to ad­dress rather than ha­rass­ing the Fara­day com­mit­tee for an event that has gone on for years.” Fara­day Hall – which de­scribes it­self as “the best hall in Lough­bor­ough” – is­sued a state­ment of­fer­ing “sin­cere apolo­gies” for the “in­ap­pro­pri­ately named” event.

“We apol­o­gise to ev­ery­one that we have of­fended or iso­lated in con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion of this night,” they said. “We are truly sorry for our ac­tions.”

Richard Tay­lor, Lough­bor­ough Uni­ver­sity’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, said “As in­ap­pro­pri­ate as it was it was gen­uinely not the in­ten­tion of the stu­dent or­gan­is­ers to cause of­fence. As soon as it was brought to the at­ten­tion of the uni­ver­sity the pro­posed event was can­celled. No el­e­ment of dress­ing-up was in­cluded in this year’s pro­posed event.”

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