Master of Christ’s College apologises for causing ‘hurt’ to Jewish Students
Apology follows an incident of anti-Semitism
Prof. Jane Stapleton has apologised to Jewish students for the ‘dismay and hurt’ caused by a poorly conducted investigation into anti-Semitic abuse.
A letter sent to alumni gave off the ‘seriously misleading impression’ that the college was not taking the students’ claims seriously.
An external investigation into last year’s handling of the incident revealed “significant failings” in Christ’s disciplinary processes and recommended a complete overhaul.
On October 28 last year two Jewish students accidentally entered a closed party at the Grad Union bar. This event was hosted by Christ’s college’s two largest drinking societies: the Hippolytans and the Marguerites. One of the victims stated: “We heard shouting and were literally grabbed and pulled out of the building by about seven large, intimidating males.”
The perpetrators subsequently shouted vitriolic anti-Semitic slurs at the victims: ‘f***ing Jew, you don’t belong here’, ‘dirty Jew’ and ‘f*** off darkie’.
Even more problematic however is Christ’s college’s response to the incident. On November 18 Shlomo Roiter-Jesner (HSPS, Hughes Hall), the only victim willing to identify himself received an email from Prof. Stapleton. This email read as follows: “The internal disciplinary process of the tutors is now concluded and two students have been disciplined. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.”
Later however it was revealed that these two students were disciplined only for ‘using foul language and participating in a scuffle’. They were not however held to account for the anti-semitic dimension of the incident. However Prof. Stapleton claimed: “I reject categorically that Christ’s has engaged in a cover-up on this matter.”
According to a public statement on behalf of Christ’s: the college’s failures are myriad. Firstly, the college could not identify a culprit for the anti-Semitic attacks and so couldn’t bring any student to justice. Secondly, because a culprit could not be found they did not even entertain the possibility that anti-Semitic abuse occurred. Finally, Christ’s did not invite any of the victims to be interviewed about the incident.
In the wake of this criticism, Christ’s has taken significant steps to neutralise the situation. The college have accepted that there was indeed anti-Semitic abuse and so have banned their drinking societies from hosting events out of college until October 2019 or till someone admits to the abuse.
Mr Roiter-Jesner told The Telegraph: “We are satisfied that Christ’s is now comfortable giving credence to our story, admitting that anti-Semitic conduct occurred and taking decisive steps to improve their disciplinary system.”
It is encouraging that Christ’s has started to take this matter seriously but this incident also has seriously concerning undertones.