Anthropology lecturer investigated for ‘racist and sexist comments’ returns to teaching

A uni investigation cleared Neil Thin, but some students aren’t happy he’s back teaching

Neil Thin, an Anthropology lecturer who was investigated for “racist and sexist” comments and biased marking, is back lecturing.

He will be teaching on the third year Anthropology dissertation prep course – taken by all students that will be doing their diss in Anthropology.

Several students taking Thin’s course have told us they think it is “so awful that he’s allowed to teach again” – especially on a compulsory module.

We spoke to Thin about his return to teaching and he said he “wanted to build a more considerate and convivial campus after  devastating couple of years”.

Earlier this year, Thin was investigated by the uni after student complaints about both comments he had made on Twitter and allegations his views were influencing his teaching and marking.

An Edifess post showed he had called Kimberle Crenshaw (a Black feminist academic) a “critical race theory fraud” in recent tweets.

Anti-racism group BlackED then asked students to share their experiences of being taught by Thin – several people alleged he had marked their work down for discussing race and some students of colour claimed they felt uncomfortable in his lectures.

A group of third year (now fourth year) anthropology students then complained about his conduct to the Anthropology department and the School of Social and Political Sciences (SPS).

He was then investigated by the uni and voluntarily stepped down from teaching and marking whilst the investigation was ongoing.

Thin was cleared by the uni of all wrongdoing. But, in a statement to The Times, he said he would refuse to go back to work until the students who complained had apologised to him.

The Tab asked Thin if he had received this apology from the student complainants and he didn’t answer our question.

Others also called for the uni to apologise to him. We then asked him if he had received an apology from either the University of Edinburgh, SPS, or the Anthropology department – he didn’t answer.

Instead he told us: “It’s a new academic year, and it’s in everyone’s interest that we do what we can to build a more considerate and convivial campus after a devastating couple of years. As you’ll know, others such as our recent Rector Ann Henderson have suffered years of online abuse by students.

“I think most of The Tab welcome constructive challenges, legitimate disagreements, and positive forms of social activism. But these kind of cowardly, divisive, defamatory and inconsiderate attacks will only lead to tragic outcomes. We must avoid giving such cowards the oxygen of publicity.”

However, it seems not everyone shares Thin’s outlook on the situation.

The Edinburgh Tab spoke to several students who are due to take the Anthropology diss prep course he will be lecturing on.

They told us they thought it was “not right”. One said: “It’s so awful that he’s allowed to teach again, like surely that’s not right. I really hoped something would be done by the uni but I guess not.”

Another also told us: “Wven putting aside his views which are just horrible, especially coming from an anthropologist, why is someone who’s known to mark unfairly and be biased an instructor on a compulsory course preparing us for our dissertations. This just can’t be right”.

We also spoke to one of the students who originally complained and she expressed disappointment in the decision.

Recommended related articles by this writer

• Investigated lecturer Neil Thin cleared of wrongdoing but Anthropology students aren’t happy

• Edinburgh anthropology department is ‘taking action’ over lecturer’s ‘racist’ tweets

Students accuse Edinburgh lecturer of spouting ‘racist and sexist’ comments