Senior member of Exeter Uni staff calls student protest ‘cyber terrorism’

She has now apologised for the ‘unwise choice of words’

The University of Exeter has apologised after a leaked email appeared to show a senior staff member equating student email protests with “cyber terrorism”.

Today, a student email protest has been organised by group Students for Academic Mitigation. In an email allegedly sent by Jamie Horsley, the university’s Head of Education Services, she said “I would equate such actions to cyber terrorism” and called it a potential “damp squib”.

In a statement from Jamie Horsley, published by the university, she apologised for the “unwise choice of words” used.

In her email she said: “I don’t think any ‘reply’ as noted below is necessary. I would equate such actions to cyber terrorism and I don’t feel the need to respond.”

This comes days after a Cardiff University lecturer posted a video of herself calling students “idiots” for wanting an academic safety net. 

The President of Exeter’s Student Guild has condemned the “unacceptable language” used in email and said the Vice Chancellor is taking this “very seriously”.

She also asked people not send “further directly to the individual” as she fears what “could become a harassment campaign.”

Jamie Horsley, in a statement sent to The Exeter Tab by the university, said: “I apologise for the unwise choice of words in my earlier message. As I understood it, the aim of today’s protest was to bombard all University enquiry points with high numbers of messages so as to disrupt our operations.

“For the Education Services Teams, this would mean we were unable to respond to enquiries from students who may need urgent help. Supporting our students is our priority at all times.

“I understand that the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the Education team have been working with student representatives on our policy and hope to communicate this in the next day or so.”

Students for Academic Mitigation, the group who organised the email protest, told The Tab Exeter: “The aim of today has always been for as many student voices as possible to throw themselves behind the student representatives who meet with the university and negotiate these policies, to make clear that the views they express to the senior team are held by the majority of the student body.

“We encouraged students to reach out to academic staff they know personally through seminars or tutors, and to open up a dialogue with those members of staff about how we appreciate their efforts but that we still need more support in the form of formal policy.

“We want to ally ourselves with the academics that do so much to support us, not alienate them. It was never intended to overwhelm internal student hubs and help desks as the email suggested. This was a peaceful form of self expression open to all students, not a militant attack on the university.”