YOUNG VOICES

Oxford University Accused Of Racism After Students Told Be 'Vigilant' After Black Man Seen On Grounds

Harris Manchester College thought the Oxford grad could be an intruder.

07/02/2017 11:55 GMT | Updated 10/02/2017 10:28 GMT

An Oxford University college has been accused of racism after it sent an email warning students to be “vigilant” after an unknown black man was seen in the building. 

Femi Nylander slammed Harris Manchester College for “institutional racial profiling” after his photo was sent to students in a security alert when he was accidentally locked in the college overnight while working in a friend’s office.

Students were warned that their “wonderful and safe environment... can be taken advantage of” after the 22-year-old Oxford grad was spotted on the grounds by college staff.  

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An Oxford University grad has accused the institution of racism after a college sent a security alert to students when he was spotted in a building 

An academic at the college reportedly raise the alarm with staff after Nylander walked into his room by mistake at 11.30pm. 

“Had this been another student of a different colour there would definitely have been a different reaction,” Nylander told the Daily Mail. 

“There are more Etonians at undergraduate level than black students,” the Rhodes Must Fall activist said. 

“You are more likely to walk through a college in a suit and tie than with an afro. Your presence is an anomaly. 

“All of these things attest to Oxford’s terrible record of anti-black racism. These issues have to been seen in a wider light with Oxford’s admissions and syllabus.” 

Last year, David Cameron lambasted his alma mater Oxford University after it came to light that the institution had accepted just 27 black students in 2014 in an intake of more than 2,500. 

Nylander - who studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the university - posted a copy of the email to the Facebook group Race Matters, where it received hundreds of responses. 

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Students were sent an email warning them to be 'vigilant' 

The email read: “This is a serious reminder that this wonderful safe environment in which we live and work can be taken advantage of. We must all do our bit to maintain vigilance against unauthorised persons in College. 

“Attached is an image taken from our CCTV of a person discovered in College this morning. Seen previously, it had been thought that this person was associated with All Souls College. 

“This is not the case,” the email continued. “If you see the person in the attacked image, please alert a member of College Staff. 

“If no staff are available (out of hours), you may call the Oxford University Security services on 01865 289999. 

“We are unaware of the intentions of this individual. Previous interactions with them have been amenable, so the College does not currently feel there is any level of danger, to either persons or property. 

“As always, do talk to any member of staff should you have any concerns,” the email concluded. 

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Harris Manchester College has denied the racism claims, saying they would have sent the email regardless of his colour 

The college has dismissed racism claims as “total rubbish”, saying they have sent security emails before about people “whose skin is light”. 

Reverend Dr Ralph Waller, principal of the college, told The Huffington Post UK that HMC had been asked to check their security recordings. 

“This person came up who nobody knew, so we circulated it [the image] just to say ‘do be careful everyone’. 

“This is someone who had no connection to our college and had been there overnight as far as we could see.” 

When asked whether there was an issue with representation at Oxford University, Waller said the college goes to “a huge amount of trouble” to attract minority students. 

“I think if you asked minority students within our college, they would tell you that we have done our best to take care of them and make sure that everyone is treated equally. 

“We try to treat everyone fairly and equally and I think we do.” 

He added in a further statement: “Anyone who enters college grounds without authorisation would be dealt with similarly, regardless of their ethnicity. Harris Manchester College is – and always has been – a great international community that thrives on diversity.

“The college’s policy is to exclude unauthorised people from gaining access overnight for obvious reasons of security.

“The college circulated a notice to its members, attaching a photograph of the person who had triggered concern after he startled an occupant by entering their room uninvited late at night and then spent the night in another room to which he had no authorised access.”