CW: This article contains reference to alleged racist language and behaviour. Reader discretion is advised.
A University of Southampton spokesperson has announced that their investigation into the alleged racist incident by a member of intramural football team, Mayflower FC has concluded. According to their statement, the investigation concluded that no racist language was used, and as a result, no further action will be taken against the students involved.
In late October, a Snapchat video obtained by the Soton Tab reportedly showed students on the U2C chanting racial slurs whilst on a social with Mayflower FC.
It was widely concluded that the student in question was chanting ‘one naked n***** on the bus’. The student was later removed from the society, with Mayflower FC president telling the Soton Tab that the video ‘had no links to the club’ and that this was ‘an individual’s mistake’.
However, in the aftermath of the incident, Mayflower FC’s social secretary resigned, saying in a statement on the group’s Facebook page that ‘you are represented by the company you keep’.
At the time, the University and Students’ Union made a joint statement explaining that they ‘will not tolerate any form of racist behaviour by anybody at the University and we have taken action on this as a matter of urgency.’
They then went on to say that:
We are working in partnership with the Students’ Union on this issue and staff from the University will speak to all members of Mayflower FC as we work swiftly to identify the individuals responsible for those appalling scenes. Once identified, they will face our rigorous disciplinary proceedings.
It was later confirmed to Wessex Scene in November than an official investigation was taking place.
Now, the University have confirmed that the ‘detailed formal internal investigation’, which was ‘immediately started under the University’s Regulations Governing Student Non-Academic Misconduct’, has concluded.
In their statement, they note that whilst such investigation outcomes usually remain confidential, they feel that ‘in the light of the public awareness of the incident and the serious accusations of racism made, which have impacted on all those concerned … it [is]important to update our community on the outcome of the investigation.’
They claim that following ‘interviews with a number of people who were on the bus, an understanding of the context of the singing, and through independent analysis of the audio of a mobile phone video clip of the incident, conducted by technology and auditory experts’ it has been concluded that no racist language was used.
Rather, in their statement they claim that no racist language was used at all, and that ‘the students were actually singing the nickname of one of the team members’ as opposed to any racial slur.
Following this conclusion, the University have confirmed that ‘the investigation has recommended that there are no grounds for further action to be taken against the students who were the focus of the investigation’.
This is because, following their investigation, it has been concluded that ‘there had not been a breach of the University Regulations with regard to the use of racist language.’
They add that ‘[t]his recommendation has been upheld by the Chair of the Non-Academic Misconduct Committee, the Vice President Research and Enterprise, and shared with the students involved and the Students’ Union’.
Finally, they conclude their statement by saying that:
Any allegations concerning incidents of racism involving our students or staff will always be treated with the utmost seriousness by the University, and any such incidents should be reported immediately. We do not tolerate any racist or discriminatory behaviour by anyone, and we will ensure full – and fair – investigations of all incidents.
You can find their statement in full here.
In response to the University’s announcement of the investigation’s conclusion, Halima Jibril, SUSU’s BAME Officer and Femsoc President had this to say:
Last Thursday, the University released a statement, concluding that the Mayflower FC did not use the n-word. Their conclusion is absolutely not surprising but it is disappointing. The way in which the University has handled this situation has been abhorrent. The decision was made by the University, and had nothing to do with the Students’ Union, but I truly believe that SUSU could have done more, from when the event occurred in October, to when the conclusion came out last Thursday. I appreciate the Union’s attempts to want students to learn about anti-racism and anti-discrimination with the WIDE training, but they need to put more of their
teaching into practice, when these events occur.
When Universities do nothing about racism, they protect it, and when they protect it, they are essentially protecting what they are built on, class suppression and white supremacy. When we had the black student forum in October, I remember discussing this with those higher up in the university, that students should be informed on the process and updated publically, black students want to know that this is being taken seriously. Everyone agreed that, that was an important step forward and that students would be updated by the end of the week, however, this did not occur. The only updates (to my knowledge), given to us was this statement from Thursday with the decision, that had an ambiguous article title and posted outside of term time for a majority of students. The University’s actions are purposeful and have meaning. Dismantling racism actually takes active work, it takes being loud and honest about hateful incidents that happen on our campus, even if it makes our university “”look bad”” (which is what the University is so scared of), it means listening to students when they ask to be actively updated on the situation, it means creating content, not just about racism in general, but about particular, words, topics and phrases that are not, and never will be tolerated at university.
This is not an isolated incident. White and non-black students use the n-word on a daily bases and get away with it, this incident (which happened during black history month), would have been a great opportunity to highlight this, along with the historical weight of the word and why it’s not appropriate to be used in any circumstances – but this was not done. I understand there is a process behind it, but I truly do not believe this has been handled appropriately.
(NB: Halima’s statement is made within her capacity as an individual and is not attributable to her Student Leader role or SUSU as a whole.)
In response to some students’ dissatisfaction with the outcome, a University of Southampton spokesperson has said:
We want all members of our community to be assured that any allegations of racism involving our students or staff will always be treated with the utmost seriousness by the University and we began investigating this incident as a matter of urgency.
We have carried out a thorough and fair investigation of the footage that was reported in the media and concluded that no racist language was used.
Meanwhile, SUSU have yet to respond. Wessex Scene anticipates that their full response to this investigation outcome will come once their offices reopen after the Christmas break.
If you have experienced or witnessed any racial harassment or abuse, you can report it via SUSU’s anonymous, online Harassment Reporting Tool, which you can access here.
If you are affected by any of these issues, you can contact Enabling Services by emailing email@example.com, or through calling them at +44(0)23 8059 7726. They also have weekday drop-ins between 1pm and 3pm at their base in the Student Services Centre (Building 37) on Highfield Campus.