Racism outcry forces students to cancel charity ‘slave auction’
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.”