Sunday 20 May 2018

Law students suspended over 'racist' WhatsApp messages

Comments allegedly made in group chat ‘Dodgy Blokes Soc’ suggested law society should be for white people only

Stock image: WhatsApp
Stock image: WhatsApp

Eleanor Busby

Members of a student law society who allegedly made racist comments have been suspended by the University of Exeter after private WhatsApp conversations were shared on social media.

A student posted screenshots of the “racist and vile” messages – alleged to have been sent between Bracton Law Society members – on Facebook ahead of the society’s election.

The group chat messages suggest the Russell Group university’s law society should be for white people only, saying: “If they’re black, send em back.”

Racial slurs, derogatory terms and rape “jokes” all feature in the private WhatsApp messages between students.

The University of Exeter has launched an investigation into the comments – which were made in a group chat called “Dodgy Blokes Soc” – and the accused students have been suspended.

It comes just days after two Nottingham Trent University students were arrested when another student posted video footage of racist chants outside her bedroom door in halls.

Arsalan Motavali, who posted screengrabs of the racist comments on Facebook on Monday, said he had already reported the matter to the university and the students’ union, the Exeter Guild.

On Facebook, he said: “I refuse to stand by and let such people who speak in these terms go on to recruit at future law firms or be a part of University culture, whilst cowering behind their phones and talking like this about people that are part of the society they represent.

“If you’re going to be a racist, be a racist, just be prepared to face the consequences that come with being such a person.”

Mr Motavali added: “I came to this University to learn, better myself and be a part of a community I was led to believe were tolerant and welcoming to all students, regardless of background.

”The University of Exeter has a serious racism problem that they need to deal with urgently and by setting a precedent.”

A statement issued by the university on Tuesday said: “The University of Exeter does not tolerate any form of racist, sexist or bigoted behaviour and is committed to eradicating any instances of discrimination and harassment that may arise.

“Following reports of allegations involving a small group of students, the University has launched a major investigation, in conjunction with the Students’ Guild, and suspended the students while this takes place. The police have also been informed.

“While it would be inappropriate to comment further while investigations take place, full disciplinary action with be taken as appropriate.”

The Bracton Law Society said it had banned all the students involved, meaning one candidate would be prevented from standing in the society’s upcoming election.

“The Society does not condone or tolerate such behaviour,” a statement from the society said.

A Devon and Cornwall police spokesperson said: “Police are aware of this incident and are liaising with staff at the University of Exeter.”

Independent News Service

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News