Jonathan Blausten’s open letter in full
Jonathan Blausten posted this open letter to the Guild on Facebook to complain about their Zero Tolerance on racism policy
This is an open letter to the Guild of Students and, in particular, the Sabbatical Officers, to ask you to please stop ruining our university with your stupid games.
There are any number of ridiculous decisions I can bring up, but there is one issue that I feel needs addressing right now, above any other: racism.
Last night, I was refused entry to Fab n Halloween dressed as Admiral General Aladeen from the Dictator, because my costume was ‘racist’. I’m still waiting to hear who I was offending, going as a character from a fictional country in a movie which parodies almost every country on earth with no particular bias.
Last night, I met someone (Initials JB), who had gone to Fab with his house. They had all gone as the Village People. He just happened to be the one dressed as the Native American, wearing a head dress. He was thrown out of Fab for being ‘racist’. I’m still waiting for the Guild to ban the YMCA.
The night before that, a friend of mine (Initials also JB) was refused entry to Fab dressed as a Mexican, with a real moustache and a sombrero, because apparently that was ‘racist’. Standing outside Fab last night being told I wasn’t going to get in, I had the chance to bring up the fact they wouldn’t allow someone in dressed as a Mexican. The response I got was “Mexico is an oppressed country”.
Earlier in the week, a group of freshers were told they weren’t allowed to wear their costumes into the Guild. They were going as bats, and part of their costume involved painting their faces black. Apparently this was also racist.
These are just four examples of the Guild’s stupid new ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy at work. Seeing as this is just one week, and just people I know, I’ll assume there are more. Security last night very kindly showed me the three pages of bullet points which comprise this new policy. That’s great. But nobody could answer one question: zero tolerance against what?
I agree we should (obviously) have zero tolerance against racism and damaging racial/cultural stereotypes, but wearing national dress, military uniform etc is just not the same. It’s not what ordinary people wear. It’s very clearly a costume and very clearly the four examples above are just not the same as, say, someone who went in ‘blackface’ or a Nazi uniform.
The Guild are perverting what is actually a very important conversation. By cutting out even the slightest mention of race or even by looking for wrongdoing when it just isn’t there, they’re giving themselves no leg to stand on when someone is actually racist. There’s no difference in treatment, and no room to make an example of someone.
This stupid, catch-all policy is just lazy, and students are being punished for no reason. I don’t want to get too political with this, but every single person I spoke to last night pointed me in the directon of VPDR Tom Wragg. From security to Guild staff, to members of Guild Council. They were all so willing to give his name up.
Decisions which affect all of our student lives are made by people who most students didn’t vote for, largely because most students don’t care at all about student politics. There are 15000 students at this University. More people actively voted against Tom (running unopposed) than voted in the Falklands’ elections.
Why are people who represent such a minority of students allowed to act like they can do whatever they want? How on earth is this policy ‘representative’? Who did they consult on this? How can decisions as big as this be made without any care for what the 14000-odd non-political students think?
I’m sure this policy was devised with good intentions, but it’s clearly either badly-written or badly-enforced. Something needs to change.
Myself and JB are also expecting the Guild to refund us for the cost of our costumes, having ruined our nights last night with a flawed policy that they didn’t even bother to promote in advance.
I personally will not be visiting the Guild again during my time at university unless this issue is resolved. The Sabb Officers are paid £17,000 tax free to represent the student body. I am struggling to see how my Guild represents me in any way, shape or form.
The inconsistencies are ridiculous. It appears the Guild deem it ok to go dressed as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner but not as a fictional dictator or as a Mexican. It appears you’re not allowed to paint your face black as part of a bat costume, yet the song playing as I left the Guild last night was a certain Jay Z & Kanye West song set in Paris. Sort it out.
*Please share this letter if you agree*