The Fitzwilliam College alumni was a figurehead in the university’s ‘Dear World… Yours, Cambridge’ clip, which also features appearances from fellow graduates Lily Cole, Stephen Hawking and Sir Ian McKellan.
The three minute video, which was made in a bid to raise £2bn for the university, has now been marked as private on YouTube and cannot be viewed.
David Starkey had appeared in the Dear World... Yours, Cambridge fundraising video
An anti-Starkey campaign was spearheaded by Malachi McIntosh, director of English studies at King’s College, who posted an open letter on Facebook calling for the university to withdraw the video.
McIntosh cited an episode of Newsnight after the 2011 London riots in which Starkey referred to Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech.
Starkey declared Powell was right “in one sense”, and that “a substantial section of the chavs... have become black. The whites have become black, a particular sort of violent destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion.”
McIntosh also accuses the Tudor historian of “equating whiteness with achievement and verbal authority” and of making clear he “still holds profoundly racist views” in an interview with the Telegraph this year where he argued statistics "appeared" to show a black propensity towards violence in the UK.
The letter also refers to Starkey’s description of a female colleague as an “immigrant”.
As of Tuesday the petition had gained more than 700 signatures and writing again on Facebook, McIntosh hailed the university’s step of setting the video to private as “a fantastic first step” but urged it to remove the video entirely and issue an apology.
Helena Blair, access officer for the Student’s Union, also featured in the video but later released a statement condemning the inclusion of “someone who students deem to be aggressively racist.”
“He [Starkey] should not be celebrated as part of this university,” she added.
A spokesman for the Development and Alumni Relations told The Cambridge Student: “We are already re-editing the film for different launch events in different parts of the world, as we intended. The film has already been replaced online with another campaign film ... We appreciate that [Starkey] is an academic who has made controversial statements in the past. However, in the video, he was representing his affection for the University and its values (the positive impact of learning and research on people’s lives)”.
Starkey told the newspaper: “I did not put myself forward. I was asked to contribute by the University, which I love, and to which I owe a profound debt.”