The statement follows an open meeting on 13th February, in which Dame Barbara Stocking discussed the allegations that she had helped cover up the exploitation of young women in Haiti by senior Oxfam staff, while she was CEO of the charity. Her response was described in the statement as “dismissive” and showing “a lack of regard for victims of sexual exploitation”, as well as using “racially charged language”. The statement continued, accusing her of microaggressions against BME students over the past few years.
Murray Edwards College made statements to the press defending Dame Barbara when the allegations were first made public. The statement describes the allegations as “untrue”, and states that Dame Barbara has the college’s full support. However, this claim was made without consulting any of the students. The college have since released a second statement saying:
“We understand how strongly our students feel. We support their right to share their views and are committed to listening and engaging with them.
The College Council is deeply concerned about the issues raised by the students. We have held meetings with students and plan more. We will maintain this dialogue.
The College Council continues actively to monitor the developing situation. Murray Edwards College is determined to maintain its focus on challenging gender inequality in the world.”
The JCR have requested a full apology by the college for its support of Dame Barbara, and for implying to the press that this support was backed by the students. They have called for a discussion into how race affects the experiences of students at Cambridge, to be led by BME students, and for the college to reaffirm its commitment to taking sexual assault seriously. They also questioned whether trust in the college could be rebuilt while Dame Barbara remains President.
In a comment to The Tab, BME Rep Sneha Lala said: “We decided to put out this statement in support of students who have felt marginalised in college and made not to feel at home, something we find unacceptable. I’m pleased that college is listening to our concerns and hope that action will be taken.”