In the run up to the student officer elections there have been a series of concerning incidents regarding the posters of students running for the Students’ Union’s Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) part-time officer roles.
On Monday the 17th of October, an anonymous prospective part-time BME officer discovered that several of her posters had been defaced and vandalised with the racial slur ‘Paki’ in red marker.
The student told The Mancunion that she was too embarrassed and anxious after seeing the first use of the offensive word on one of her posters to come forward, but after her friend alerted her to other posters of hers which had been similarly vandalised, she then decided to report it.
This incident follows a similar one which occurred on Friday 14th of October, in which the posters of two prospective BME officers were allegedly shown to be cut with scissors and removed from the front of the union, where campaigning posters are normally placed.
Both students commented that the posters were placed there to try and ensure no vandalism would occur, since they were aware of the incident last term where a student’s banner was defaced with a Swastika, and hoped the heightened awareness from this incident would mean it would not happen again.
One of the prospective officers from Friday’s incident stated that they have not been put off campaigning but will channel their upset and anger into campaigning more. CCTV footage is not available of the incident so the perpetrator(s) remain unknown.
Numerous political societies have offered their support. Manchester Labour Students issued this statement:
“Manchester Labour Students condemns a series of racist incidents that have occurred during the UoMSU part-time officer elections. MLS are shocked by these incidents, of racist language and disruption to campaigning materials like banners and posters, it is totally unacceptable and has affected members of our society in MLS and the whole BAME community. MLS is disgusted and sickened that this kind of attitude exists on our campus and in society and we are totally committed to stamping out all forms of racism. We call on the University and the Students Union to thoroughly investigate these incidents and will be pushing them to take action against any person found responsible for these incidents.”
The University of Manchester’s Student’s Union has released this statement: “Over the weekend it was brought to our attention that BME candidates running in the Student Officer Elections have had their campaign materials vandalised around campus.
“At this stage we have not been able to identify the culprit(s) as CCTV is not present in the areas in which the vandalism has taken place and so it has been difficult to follow up on specific allegations; therefore we will be liaising with each candidate separately to see how they would like to pursue each incident.
“Discrimination or vandalism of any kind will not be tolerated and we will be working closely with each of the candidates to ensure their individual needs are met and receiving the correct support going forward.”
If anyone has any information about the above incidents please do not hesitate to contact The Mancunion.