Statement regarding recent JCR Hustings

4 June 2020

This news piece was updated on 9 June to include a copy of a Welfare message sent to students – see footer.

Christ Church condemns the deeply offensive remarks that were made during the recent JCR Hustings, which appeared to make light of the appalling death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We are taking the incident extremely seriously and have investigated what took place. 

The JCR President, Jarnail Atwal, spoke about the incident at the end of the meeting, and has made the following comments:

“Being a member of the JCR is to commit oneself to engage with others, to live in a community, and above all to respect one another. These basic standards were violated. The injustices of American society, that travesty of American police brutality, were trivialised for the sake of a cheap and repugnant joke." 

“We must recognise that such insensitivity and lack of compassion cannot be treated with indifference. We must learn to live with one another. We must be understanding, and we must be kind."

“The individual who made the remark has made the right decision to withdraw their candidacy for a position on the JCR Committee. They are apologetic and it is clear to me deeply regret the hurt and anguish caused, and did not foresee it.”

“I spoke at the end of the Hustings to ensure that the incident did not go unaddressed. In future, the provisions of our standing orders will be reviewed to ensure that unacceptable and offensive remarks are immediately addressed, in the instance in which they happen, and addressed for what they are. We are thankful that this incident has given us the opportunity to learn and improve.”

Christ Church’s GCR also condemned the incident unequivocally and denounced racism in all its forms. Graduate students are formulating their own response to the incident. This includes the GCR currently polling its members to find an appropriate charity to which to make a donation to demonstrate its solidarity with those combatting racist behaviour. 

Christ Church’s Senior Censor, Prof. Geraldine Johnson, and Junior Censor, Prof. Dirk Aarts, have made the following joint statement:

“We completely support the frank words of the JCR President, who has kept us fully informed about the incident that took place during the recent Hustings held on Zoom. Christ Church is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all, whatever their background, or the colour of their skin. Racism, in any form, cannot and will not be tolerated and it is completely unacceptable if any student felt uncomfortable, let alone distressed, at this meeting.”

“We have been deeply impressed by those who spoke up during the meeting, and for their honesty and openness in discussions afterwards, as well as by the students who have contacted us individually to share their concerns. From the ongoing conversations we have had, there can be no doubt that our students and the wider Christ Church community take a very clear stance against racism and were dismayed to hear about this incident. We will continue to work closely with all our students to ensure that Christ Church provides a welcoming and supportive home for everyone. We expect all members of our community to adhere to our Equality policy and will be dealing with violations of this policy through our established procedures." 

"Although an anti-bias session is already a compulsory element of our induction programme, it has become evident that this is not enough. We will therefore work with students to ensure that not only freshers, but the entire community, continues to confront the very real impact of racial bias and all forms of discrimination. To that end, we will be taking concrete steps to introduce new and ongoing initiatives to combat prejudice and to give everyone—students and staff—the tools to stand up for the values of tolerance and equality that Christ Church embraces today. We all have much to learn, but we are committed to fostering a culture of mutual respect both at Christ Church and in the wider world.”

 

Welfare message to Christ Church students sent on 8 June 2020

 

Message to Christ Church students sent on 4 June 2020