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Cambridge student calls out media after online abuse

PICTURED: Lola Olufemi

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY student Lola Olufemi has called out newspapers of “a very targeted form of harassment” after she was “flooded” with racist and sexist abuse for criticising the lack of black and ethnic minority (BAME) authors on the university’s English course.

Olufemi, a women’s officer at Cambridge University Student Union, said media coverage of an open letter to the English department, signed by dozens of students, was designed to incite hatred.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, she said that after the Daily Telegraph’s decision to put her photograph on its front page, “all of my work Facebook, my email were flooded with racist and sexist abuse. And that’s not by accident. That is a very purposeful thing that you’re doing.”

According to The Guardian, Olufemi said she was disappointed by the Telegraph’s coverage. She said: “I think it is very telling that they chose to place a photograph of me, a student, a highly visible young, black woman student on the front of their newspaper, as if to incite this kind of abuse, and incite hatred, and make me into the figure that people could attack.”

This all followed the publication of an open letter to academics at the university, asking them to “decolonise” the English literature syllabus by including more BAME writers.

The letter said: “For too long, teaching English at Cambridge has encouraged a ‘traditional’ and ‘canonical’ approach that elevates white male authors at the expense of all others.”

It added that the department could not “claim to provide students with the ‘foundational knowledge of the canon’ whilst it refuses to decolonise the curriculum”.

Cambridge university released a statement following the onslaught of abuse, condemning the harassment Olufemi has received.

Read the statement below:

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