‘Racist and sexist’ Edinburgh lecturer removed from ‘all academic matters’
‘I have expressed no reprehensible views,’ Neil Thin says
Senior Social Anthropology lecturer Neil Thin has been removed from being ‘involved formally in any academic matters’ at The University of Edinburgh, after accusations by students of “racist and sexist” views influencing his teaching and marking.
This includes marking student assessments and being a personal tutor.
It follows accusations about his “problematic” views expressed online allegedly affecting his teaching, marking, and classroom environment.
After this, a group of third year Social Anthropology students wrote a template for a letter for students to complain to the department about Neil Thin’s alleged behaviour.
The letter prompted Head of Department for Social Anthropology, Lotte Hoek, to commit to “taking action” over his comments and behaviour.
Neil Thin strongly denies any accusations of racism, sexism, and these views impacting his teaching and marking. He told his personal tutees he was “puzzled” by the letter of complaint against him and believed that he had “expressed no reprehensible views, nor have I ever been rude or unkind to any student in my 34-year career here”.
In an email to students he said he had “agreed with Linda McKie our Head of School that I will not for the foreseeable future be able to be involved in any academic activities”.
Addressing the letter, he said “As some of you have already heard, there have been some very serious allegations made online concerning my character and my views on a variety of social, political, and moral issues. There has also, I am told, been a letter of complaint sent by students to several staff, although I have not seen this. I am of course confident that I have nothing to hide.
For the time being you will I trust appreciate these co-ordinated attacks make it impossible and undesirable for me to teach or mark while the causes of these complaints are investigated.”
He also said he was worried about the possibility “this appalling situation continues into [the] next academic year”.
However, some of his students told The Edinburgh Tab they are not happy with Neil Thin’s response to being removed from all academic matters.
One Social Anthropology student told us “I’m glad that the SPS has taken this seriously and dealt with it in an appropriate manner . I myself am relieved that he isn’t marking my essay anymore
I’m disappointed though, that Neil Thin does not seem to have reflected on how his behaviour as a lecturer, personal tutor, and senior member of staff has affected students. His emails show how he doesn’t respect students feelings and opinions, especially minority students.
Generalising students who have spoken up as unnecessarily “triggered” is harmful and I hope the university will continue to treat this case seriously in the future too.”
On Friday, Neil Thin told The Times “I think the students looked at my tweets and thought I was ripe for cancellation,” he said. “However, they couldn’t find a bad joke or offensive comment that could sink me.”
This is despite these comments being made after he was removed from all academic matters by mutual agreement with the Head of School for SPS.
He also described students complaining about his views and behaviour as “puritans and a bullying, censorious mob” – with the headline of the article describing them as “puritan bullies”.
However, in response, the third year Social Anthropology course Facebook Messenger group chat has been renamed “puritan bullies” to poke fun at such an accusation.
A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh said “As a University we are strongly committed to upholding the rights to freedom of expression and academic freedom and facilitating an environment where staff and students are able to inquire, study and debate.
“Any complaints received as a result of such matters are treated seriously and are subject to the University’s standard internal procedures. The University may agree temporary arrangements, to support all involved, while any investigation takes place.”
Neil Thin declined to comment.