Dear Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz,
As you will no doubt be aware, on Friday 28th July and Saturday 29th July, a series of comments were made on social media by Jason Osamede Okundaye who is both a student at your university and also the head of the university’s Black and Minority Ethnic Society; a position of significant authority which he has held since June.
For your reference, and referring to widespread disorder in east London which involved petrol bombs being thrown at police officers, Mr Okundaye tweeted at 11:42pm on 28th: “Watching these middle-class white people despair over black people protesting in their colonised Dalston is absolutely delicious.”
Mr Okundaye then tweeted at 12:23am on 29th: “ALL white people are racist. White middle class, white working class, white men, white women, white gays, white children they can ALL geddit (sic).”
These comments were broadcast to his over 3,500 followers and it remains unclear whether the tweets have since been deleted as Mr Okundaye has now made his profile private following the inevitable uproar which ensued. Let us make it clear that for any member of your university, not least one with such a responsible platform and one which has ran anti-racism campaigns previously; to engage in such sickening and inflammatory comments unquestionably leaves a stain on your otherwise upstanding institution. The comments not only incited violence against our heroic emergency services but also incited violence and racial hatred amongst the white community at large.
We are pleased to note that one of the university’s two core values is the ‘freedom from discrimination’ and we are also pleased to note that in the universities Equal Opportunities Policy you state: “The University of Cambridge is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to a pro-active and inclusive approach to equality, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups, promotes an inclusive culture, and values diversity.” Furthermore, clause 2.1 of your 12-page Dignity at Work Policy, further states: “The University expects all members of the University community to treat each other with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times. All members of the University community are expected to behave professionally and have the right to expect professional behaviour from others.”
We understand from national press reports that the university is “looking into this matter” and “will respond appropriately”. Whilst we acknowledge that any investigation must be thoroughly conducted, we must also stress that these tweets have already been viewed by potentially tens of thousands/millions of people and Mr Okundaye has undoubtedly brought the university into disrepute with such divisive and appalling rhetoric which breach numerous university guidelines as set out above.
It is clear in our minds that such intolerance or racism should not be tolerated at the University of Cambridge and we trust you will take strong action accordingly in the form of Mr Okundaye’s expulsion with immediate effect. It is our view, and we know a view shared by many others, that time is of the essence to send a clear message to current and future students that the University of Cambridge deals robustly with racism in all its forms.
We look forward to your reply.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain