‘Things could have been handled differently’: SUSU on last year’s Mayflower FC incident

An investigation last year into alleged racist language used on a social concluded it was actually a player’s nickname being sung, not a slur

The Chief Executive of SUSU has said “things could have been handled differently” with regards to the incident of alleged racial slurs used by Mayflower FC on a social last year.

In October last year, videos obtained by The Soton Tab showed members of Southampton society Mayflower FC singing what was believed to be a racial slur.  A subsequent university investigation concluded the group of students were actually singing a player’s nickname.

At the time, the university released a statement, which said: “The investigation has concluded that the racist word was not used, and the students were actually singing the nickname of one of the team members.” They said auditory and technology experts were used to work out exactly what was said in the video, and the investigation’s conclusion was based on these findings as well as interviews with people who had been on the bus.

In an interview published today by Wessex Scene, Jim Gardner Chief Executive of SUSU said: “There’s a recognition probably within the University and within SUSU that things could have been handled differently” in the investigation into the alleged racist language used by the society.

The video can be seen on The Soton Tab’s Instagram

Jim Garder said: “We’re talking about something that happened about a year ago now, the exact details of which I don’t know about. I think, as I understand it, was a difficulty of who dealt with this incident?” [According to Wessex Scene, he only came on as SUSU’s new Chief Executive in March, but he says he had been briefed on the Mayflower FC issue.]

“Was it SUSU, because it was one of our sports clubs involved, or was it the University? I think there was that confused approach. The University did their investigations, reached their conclusions and decided there wasn’t a clear cut case. The challenge now is they’ve done their investigation, they’ve reached their findings, it’s done, and perhaps damage is done but it’s a year ago.

“Perhaps there is a case to apologise, perhaps there is a case to review but I think the important think is to focus now on how we’re going to behave as an organisation, how we’re gonna work with other people and what we stand for. It’s difficult to know exactly how we move on from that.”

When asked how SUSU would ensure the safekeeping of those who may feel they have been let down in the past Gardner said: “If there is an incident of racism, which ticks our value of taking responsibility, that’s about equality, diversity and inclusion amongst other things, that’s when we have to be assertive and stand strong and be firm and say to the University or whoever it is…We’re not accepting this. This is not acceptable. We need this dealt with.”

SUSU responded to Wessex Scene: “SUSU has not been given sight of the full Wessex Scene article but just the headline. In relation to that headline, ‘SUSU admits fault in Mayflower FC Incident’, we as an organisation have reflected at length over the last year on how both we and the University handled the incident and are confident that we have learned from the experience.

“Our new strategy makes it very clear that we are determined to stand strong on important issues and use our position to challenge the University when required.”

In response to Gardner’s interview a University of Southampton spokesperson told the Soton Tab: “At the time of the incident last October involving Mayflower FC, the University and Students’ Union took this matter very seriously and worked in partnership as a matter of urgency.

“Having carried out a thorough and fair investigation of the footage of the incident in question, and speaking directly to those involved, we came to the conclusion that no racist language was used.

“We want to emphasise in the strongest language possible that both the University of Southampton and the Students’ Union will not tolerate any form of racist behaviour within our university or in the community by anyone associated with the University.

“We want all members of our community to be assured that any allegations of racism involving our students or staff in future will always be treated with the utmost seriousness by the University.”

SUSU  and Mayflower FC have been approached for comment.

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