Breaking: Apology from Cambridge student who burned money in front of a homeless person

Pembroke College has announced that the student will be returning to Cambridge University

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Cambridge student Ronald Coyne, who caused outcry earlier this year when he attempted to burn a £20 in front of a homeless person, has written a letter of apology for his behaviour.

Pembroke College has circulated the letter amongst its current students, in the hope “that this will generate support for Ronald as he prepares to return to College.”

In February, the Law student and member of CUCA (the Cambridge University Conservative Association) attempted to burn a £20 note in front of a homeless person, whilst dressed in white tie. The incident was recorded as a video and posted on Snapchat, a social networking platform. This was revealed exclusively by The Tab. He was later expelled from the Conservative Association and faced disciplinary measures.

A recording of the incident in February, which was put on Snapchat

The event drew further press attention later this year, when The Tab exposed jokes making light of the student’s behaviour at a CUCA event, advertised as a ‘Dessert Party with Alan Mak’, the Conservative MP for the Havant constituency in Hampshire. One attendee was heard to have shouted “It should have been a £50 note”, a comment which was followed by loud laughter.

The event drew comparisons to the initiation rites of Oxford University’s notorious Bullingdon Club

Ronald Coyne’s apology letter, which “he asked [Pembroke College] to forward” amongst its current students, is as follows:

“Dear all

As you may recall, earlier this year it was widely reported in the media that I attempted to set alight to a £20 note on Bridge Street in Cambridge. Until now, there had been an ongoing disciplinary process on a university and college level which had meant I couldn’t respond publicly. Now that these processes have concluded, I am setting out to try to remedy some of the hurt caused by my actions. As one of those steps, I want to take the opportunity to apologise.

My actions were wrong and without thought or consideration. I abused my privilege as a student at such a great university, and behaved in a way which is totally contrary to the values of the university and of
its students. I acknowledge that my behaviour put the entire university in a negative light, and for that I am sorry. For the effect that my behaviour had on you as a community, I am also sorry.

Pembroke College Cambridge

I am extremely fortunate to have a place at Cambridge. My experience of Cambridge was of a place which is positive, accepting, and friendly. Yet on that evening, I forgot what it really meant to study at Cambridge. I misrepresented what it meant to be a student here. The gift of a great education should be a tool to enrich society, not an excuse to debase it. I made a terrible mistake, and I quite rightly faced disciplinary action for it. I have addressed the root causes of my behaviour by attending awareness classes, relating to both alcohol and social inclusion.

I am truly sorry for the upset I have caused my fellow students. I cannot begin to express my heartfelt remorse for the guilt by association you all faced, on many levels. When the media commentary flared up, strangers sent piles of abusive mail to my family home threatening me with violence, and chemical attacks. I received some sympathetic letters and emails from people who thought that the online abuse went too far. To those people, I am still grateful.

I would like to end by repeating my deep regret at the offence and hurt caused by my actions, and asking for a second chance.

Ronald Coyne.”