Students and staff of the University of Cambridge have protested a recent video made by the University that contains an alumni with a history of racially insensitive comments
Cambridge University has recently been forced to remove a fundraising video containing David Starkey, a Cambridge alumnus who has been described as problematic in the past for his allegedly racist comments.
Starkey was featured at the beginning of a video introducing the Dear World, Yours Cambridge campaign. The fundraising project was set to raise £2 billion and is being used to highlight the contributions that Cambridge alumni have made to the world.
Starkey’s presence in the video has resulted in an uproar in the Cambridge community. Anti-Starkey campaigners cite several examples in the past where the alumnus has made blatantly racist remarks as grounds for the video’s removal from the public domain.
First and foremost was his comment after the 2011 England riots, when he stated that “a substantial amount of the chavs have become black. The whites have become black; a particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.”
In response to concerns, Helena Blair, Access Officer at Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), tells The Guardian that she “had not heard about his racist views, and it was not until after the video was released that I learned of his deeply problematic opinions.”
It was Malachi McIntosh, director of English studies at King’s College, who originally raised the issue in an open letter to the university. McIntosh was backed by hundreds of students, staff, and alumni.
In the letter, McIntosh states that, “in our eyes, Starkey’s presence both undermines and taints our daily efforts to function as a united community, one open to the very best and brightest regardless of anything except their academic potential.”
In response to the protest, the university has suspended the video on YouTube, but protesters are encouraging the school to go further by removing the video completely.
A statement has also been released by the University stating that the video is currently being edited. They have yet to issue an apology, which the protesters are demanding.
“In due course,” Starkey has told The Independent, “the university will decide what is right, proper and expedient. I shall be happy to accept that decision. Of course, if it raises any question about the nature of academic inquiry and academic freedom, I shall reserve the right to comment freely but without recrimination.”