Durham Uni vows ‘to learn’ after admitting student’s apology for racist abuse was inadequate

‘We will endeavour to ensure that responding parties offer meaningful apologies which fully acknowledge what has gone wrong, and accept full responsibility for this’

After The Tab Durham reported yesterday that a Durham student had been called a “dirty n****” by a member of the Durham Union Equalities Committee, Durham University has issued an updated statement on the situation.

Samantha Smith, a second year Law student at Hatfield College shared on social media that she had faced the hate speech from another male student whilst she had also been a member of the Durham Union society. After an investigation from both Durham University and the Durham Union, the student was told to send Samantha a formal apology.

Samantha shared the apology on Twitter and Facebook, which read: “You will be aware that I am required to have no contact with you. I assure you that I will abide by this and this letter is written sincerely to offer an apology to you.

“I have been given this opportunity to write to you indirectly. I am therefore writing this letter offering my sincere apology to you as I understand my behaviour has caused you distress.

“During the last few months, I have reflected on my interactions with you, and it is my intention to follow the advice provided by the university.

“I wish you all the best in the future and once again I am sorry for the distress you have experienced.”

The student’s apology to Samantha

Of the apology, Samantha said: “In his ‘apology’, he doesn’t even MENTION what he’s apologising for. He showed no remorse then and clearly still doesn’t now “. She also shared a correspondence from the university, which called the apology “minimal”.

Samantha has heavily criticised the university in their handling of the situation, saying: “An apology and no-contact order isn’t sufficient. They claim to have a zero-tolerance racism policy, yet they clearly don’t take it seriously”.

“Racism has no place in society. Durham is supposedly one of the top academic institutions in the world, yet they fail to tackle even the most clear-cut racist incidents. I feel angry, I feel degraded, and I feel let down. Do better, Durham.”

In response to the situation, Durham University provided an initial statement to The Tab Durham which read: “We are deeply sorry that one of our students has experienced abuse.

“We do not tolerate racism in any form and entirely condemn language of this kind.

“These allegations have been investigated by both Durham University and the Durham Union Society. Sanctions have been imposed in line with University policies and processes which go much further than those disclosed on social media.”

This statement seemed to query Samantha’s reporting of events on social media.

Since publication of The Tab Durham’s first article, Durham University has requested that the following be added to their statement: “We are concerned that the apology was not commensurate with the very serious nature of the offence.

“We will learn from this.

“In future, as part of our disciplinary processes, we will endeavour to ensure that responding parties offer meaningful apologies which fully acknowledge what has gone wrong, and accept full responsibility for this.”

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