Posted on June 10, 2015

Oxford Union Passes Motion Calling Itself ‘Institutionally Racist’

Siobhan Fenton, Independent, June 1, 2015

The Oxford Union has passed a motion stating that it is institutionally racist.

The move comes in light of a race row sparked last week involving the Oxford University debating society after it served a controversial cocktail titled ‘Colonial Comeback’. The cocktail was served as refreshment for the debate ‘This House believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies’ and advertised on a flyer featuring a picture of black hands bound in chains.

At a meeting held in the prestigious debating chamber this afternoon with the Union’s Standing Committee, Treasurer Zuleyka Shahin proposed the motion “the Oxford Union society is institutionally racist.”

The motion was passed unanimously by the students present.

Simukai Chigudu, a PHD student at the university and Vice President of the Oxford University Africa Society, was present for the vote.  He told The Independent: “The Oxford Union can no longer sweep issues of privilege and exclusivity under the rug. It must engage seriously with the concerns and views of a more diverse student body.”

The passing of the motion comes just days after the Union’s officer for Black and Minority Ethnic Officer, Esther Odejimi, resigned in light of the cocktail scandal. As she resigned she said: “It’s clear that my role was just an act of political correctness and they [the Union] had no intention to actually engage with the BME rep position.”

She added: “I want nothing to do with them at all. I’m disgusted. Racism is definitely not dead.”

The Oxford Union did not respond to requests from The Independent for comment.