‘We’re scared to go back onto campus’: Edi students react to racist library assault

There will be protests on campus in the coming weeks

Following Friday night’s racist attack on an Edinburgh Uni student outside the library, Edinburgh students have reacted by coming together to take a stand against the racism that people of colour face in the city and on campus.

In the past few days, multiple posts, protests and campaigns have been made by students who are outraged that such an incident could happen, especially on university grounds.

Many POC students, particularly East and South East Asian students, now feel unsafe and scared to be alone on campus after the horrific attack. The Facebook group Edinburgh University POC Walking Group has been created in response, with members offering to walk each other to and from the library and around campus.

In a post on Twitter, law student Miguel Chui wrote: “My BAME peers and I are scared to go back onto campus following this horrific incident. It could have been me or my friends that night”.

Miguel also called out Edinburgh University for their lack of action, tweeting “The University’s silence is heard loud and clear” and “This is what we have to do to keep ourselves safe on campus, absent is any protection from the University”.

On Sunday, two students staged a protest by tying themselves to a pillar outside the Main Library and were then joined by many others who wanted to show their solidarity and support.

The students, Dhruti, a fourth-year sustainable development student, and Niharika, a fourth-year economics and maths student, wrote this in the Meadows Share Facebook group: “In light of the racial violence and discrimination that the PoC community constantly faces in university spaces, and the constant ineffective action and highly bureaucratic processes that this university puts racial victims through, we’re standing in protest.

“[We] have tied [our] bodies to the pillar of the library as a sign of taking up space in our own campus Please join in solidarity and if anyone can bring rope, we’d appreciate it. Shame on you Edinburgh university!”

Additionally, a new movement called Racism Unmasked Edinburgh has been created by Edi students Allie Haddlesey, Feiya Hu and Vanessa Chong.

The movement aims to fight the racism that East and South East Asian people face in Edinburgh and the wider UK as well as providing a place for people to share experiences and come together as a community. There are already over 300 members on the Racism Unmasked Edinburgh Facebook Group and over 200 followers on their Instagram page @racismunmaskededinburgh.

Allie told The Tab Edinburgh: “The movement was born out of a necessity to create a space for East/South East Asians to have a community to share our experiences and build each other up. It was also created out of a frustration with the systemic racism levelled at us on a daily basis and a desire to do something to change that.

“There are so many aspects of racism that we need to tackle but crucially we need to tackle them together. Myself, Feiya, and a group of wonderful, dedicated admins have been working really hard to build a stable structure for the organisation.

“We want to make sure that people realise that they are not alone. Racists try and isolate us, to make us feel weaker but the truth is we are stronger than they will ever be. And we will be strong together”.

via @racismunmaskededinburgh on Instagram

A solidarity walk has also been planned for Tuesday 15th December at 7pm outside the Main Library – the site of Friday’s attack. The walk will go from the Main Library to Bristo Square, McEwan Hall, along Meadow Walk and then end back outside the library.

Writing on Facebook, organiser and Edi student Can Tao asks that people “please keep a social distance and please turn on your phone torchlight.”

Tao wrote: “I believe the light can physically connect us together in a very tangible way in the dark. We need some light and warmth from each other now”.

To coincide with the solidarity walk, Racism Unmasked Edinburgh are planning a peaceful protest in which placards and posters will be placed outside the Main Library as a show of solidarity for POC students and to help them feel safer on campus.

This event will also be held on Tuesday December 14th at 7pm to mark the very start of the solidarity walk.

via @racismunmaskededinburgh on Instagram

Multiple societies have released statements showing their support and solidarity for the attacked student and any other students who have faced incidents of racism on campus.

In a post on Instagram, The African Caribbean Society Committee wrote: “Violence on campus should not be tolerated and we are concerned about the safety of BME students on campus. For the meantime there are a few students who have volunteered to walk each other to and from the library. If you are feeling unsafe, please contact us so we can get you in touch with them.

“We send our thought and prayers to the student that was assaulted, and we will make sure as many University Staff members as possible are made aware of this incident to make sure that something is done about this”.

via @eu_acs on Instagram

Also in an Instagram post, BAME Medics at Edinburgh wrote: “It deeply saddens us that even on the university campus (spaces that are supposed to be safe), students are still at risk of violence from racists and xenophobes. It should be noted that there have been other instances of racist action this semester”.

via @bame_medics_edinburgh on Instagram

A spokesperson from Edinburgh University told The Tab Edinburgh: “All of our University community should feel safe on campus, and we will not tolerate violence, racism or any other form of discrimination.

“We are working closely with Police Scotland to support their investigations into the incident, and to increase the presence of security and police in the area. We have conducted a swift review into our response on the night and continue to work with the student community to address their concerns.

“A range of help has been offered to the victim to support them after their ordeal. However, this will of course be upsetting and concerning for our whole community. We want to reassure our students and staff that we will do everything in our power to ensure that people have a safe and happy experience on campus.”