Inhumane treatment of Ebenezer Azamati at the Oxford Union | Letters | Education
I was horrified to read of Ebenezer Azamati’s treatment at the Oxford Union, but sadly not surprised (Blind student dragged from Oxford Union ‘by his ankles’, 18 November). My own experiences 30 years ago also showed an elitist institution seeped in privilege. I was assaulted in the union’s bar when a rather posh chap demanded that I and my friends give him the table we were at. When I refused I was thrown to the ground at which stage I reacted in self-defence.
The contretemps was quickly broken up, which was fortunate for me as my assailant was far bigger than I realised while lying on the floor. At this stage, like Mr Azamati, I was told I had a life ban from the union. Asking about the other person involved I was amazed to be told that no punishment applied – after all, he was a lord. Rather than tugging my forelock, which was clearly the response expected, I suggested the union official went into the bar to talk to witnesses, or I would take legal action. Ten minutes later I was told it was just a misunderstanding, best forgotten. It seems nothing much has changed.
• Reading of the incident involving the Ghanaian postgraduate student Ebenezer Azamati, my reaction is of shame and outrage. As a former secretary of the Oxford University Africa Society (1966-67), I recognised at the time that my welcome into that organisation, despite my being white and English, was a real honour. On reflection, I can say that social and intellectual engagement has had greater lasting value in my life than almost anything else I learned at Oxford. In contrast, the way Azmati was treated seems to me to be a reflection downstream of that same “born-to-rule” arrogance that we see exhibited only too often by the ruling class currently running the country.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
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