Indian-origin academic refuses to supervise students to protest Cambridge race row | world news | Hindustan Times
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Indian-origin academic refuses to supervise students to protest Cambridge race row

Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge, says she has been subject to outright racist treatment at Kings gates, but the college has issued a statement denying racism.

world Updated: Jun 22, 2018 13:33 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Priyamvada Gopal,Cambridge race row,Jawaharlal Nehru University
Priyamvada Gopal, an alumni of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge University. (Courtesy: Churchill College, Cambridge)

Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge, has refused to supervise students at the university’s King’s College in protest against what she has described as “consistently racist profiling and aggression by porters” at its gate.

An alumna of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Gopal, 50, cited “this long festering sore” and said unless the college addresses it, she would not supervise students there.

As reports in the British news media and on social media sparked much reaction, the college issued a statement denying racism. On Tuesday, Gopal, an expert in colonial and postcolonial literature, tweeted that she stood by her decision.

“I have been subjected, like many other PoC (people of colour), some of have come weeping to my office, to, yes, I’ll say it – outright racist treatment – at Kings Gates. Since Kings denies it, this will not change. And so, my refusal to any more work for them stands,” she posted.

“I have now received hate emails and a continued barrage of vitriolic racist abuse,” she added.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Gopal cited examples of racism at the college and claimed that her attempts to raise this with the fellows and management of King’s had “failed to elicit any changes”.

She tweeted that her decision was made “with deep regret but with 17 years of consideration behind it, I have finally decided on my behalf & of other people of colour…to refuse to supervise any students at Kings College. Enough is enough”.

She described one of her experiences at the college: “‘I repeatedly asked them to address me as ‘Dr Gopal’ and repeatedly failed to get them, including the aggressive Head Porter to whom I attempt to complain to address me as anything other than ‘madam.’”

King’s College said in a statement: “We have investigated the incident and found no wrongdoing on the part of our staff. Every visitor was asked to show their card during the course of that day, as the college was closed to everyone except King’s members”.

“Non-members such as Dr Gopal were asked to take alternatives routes, around the college. This was a matter of procedure, not discrimination. King’s College is a rich and diverse community, and take the wellbeing of its students and staff extremely seriously.

“We remain committed to being an inclusive and welcoming environment in which to work and study. We categorically deny that the incident referred to was in any way racist.”

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 07:38 IST