Cambridge Uni accused of racism for allowing non-black lecturer to say the N-word

The university has been called out by student Indiana Seresin, who has said that as a white student, she had “benefited from the structural racism” of the university

SCRUTINY: Cambridge University

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY has been accused of racism after a non-black lecturer read aloud the N-word from a passage in class.

26-year old student Indiana Seresin said that she had witnessed and “accumulation” of racist incidents during her time at the university, including one time where an English lecturer “repeatedly read aloud the n-word during class discussions,” <i>The Telegraph</i> reports.

Seresin, a white student from north London, said that a black friend had emailed the lecturer to explain that she didn’t feel comfortable hearing non-black lecturers using the derogatory word regardless of the context. She said that rather than receiving an apology, the friend was “patronisingly told that she did not understand the context in which the word was being used”.

Seresin added that the disagreement escalated and a group of students met with the chair of the English faculty about it.

She told <i>The Telegraph</i> that many of the students – including herself – where invited to raise the issue at the Teaching Forum, where academics and students meet to share their views. 

“Many of those present seemed simply unable to comprehend the difference between a black writer reclaiming the n-word and a nonblack Cambridge lecturer or student saying it aloud in class,” she said.

“We also faced hostility regarding the idea that different rules applied to black and nonblack lecturers, even though beyond Cambridge this is a widely accepted principle and for obvious reasons does not constitute a double standard.”

Seresin left Cambridge following the incident and amid the lack of black lecturers and weariness surrounding their attempts to “decolonise” the curriculum. She says that her decision to leave Cambridge mid-way through her PhD “comes from a position of privilege, including racial privilege”, adding that those who remain at the university need not be “condemned for their complicity.”

In a withdrawal statement posted on Medium, she wrote: “I recently left my PhD program bc of the racism of the dept and university, and I’m sharing my withdrawal statement bc I don’t think these issues should be kept secret.”

A Cambridge University spokesman said: “The Teaching Forum, which included students, met and following a well-informed exchange of views it was decided that there should be no prescriptive rules on what language is appropriate to reference when reading from texts, but that academics should consider the contemporary and political discourse around particular words or terms.”

The spokesman added that the university strives to create a culture “free from racism, discrimination, prejudice and harassment”.

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