LU Amnesty President, Puru Sharma, urges the Vice-Chancellor to take immediate action against the library staff member who allegedly racially profiled a POC student after they were arrested in the University Library.
On 15th March, LU Amnesty President, Puru Sharma, published an open letter addressing the alleged harassment and arrest of a POC student in the University Library. Addressed to both the Vice-Chancellor and the Students’ Union, Sharma begins by outlining an incident that occurred on the 20th February. Sharma claims that a POC student was “harassed, handcuffed and arrested on the premises of our library on campus.” Sharma goes on to say that one of the library staff members was caught on camera asking the student, “haven’t you been arrested before?” Allegedly the student in question was not guilty of the accusations against them and was released from custody.
Sharma claims this incident “has been public knowledge ever since and has been discussed in some lectures.” However, according to Sharma, allegedly the Students’ Union claim to have only found out about the incident on the 7th March when Sharma raised concerns in one of his hustings for the SU Elections.
The Students’ Union has since confirmed that they were made aware of this incident last week and have not received any complaints. A Students’ Union Spokesperson has said that “it was immediately escalated to the University Leadership” and “if any student wishes to make a complaint we will, of course, investigate it fully and offer them any support they need.”
However, Sharma believes that the Students’ Union has failed to take any substantial action in response to this incident and claims “the library staff member who appeared to racially profile the student has still not been reprimanded for their unacceptable and outrageous statement.”
Sharma claims that “this isn’t the first time that the SU has failed to represent its students.” He claims that in 2019, students on campus were putting up ‘Stand with Hong Kong’ posters to show their solidarity with the students who were affected by the riots in Hong Kong. The posters were allegedly taken down and it was reported by students involved that porters told them not to put the same posters on their windows. Sharma was one of these students and when he, along with a few other students, discussed this with the Students’ Union, the only response they received was a change in the poster code, making any political posters on campus illegal.
In response to these allegations regarding the poster code, the Students’ Union has said that “we would never support attempts to suppress the views of students or the removal of posters on purely political grounds. We revised our poster code this term with a view to further protecting and empowering students and their voices on our campus.”
Sharma insists that this open letter is not an ‘expose’. He acknowledges that “the Students’ Union consists of incredible student leaders and individuals for whom I have nothing but respect for, which is exactly why I expect better from each and every one of them.”
Sharma urges the Vice-Chancellor to “take immediate action against the library staff member who racially profiled one of the students and to investigate the matter thoroughly.”
To his fellow students, Sharma appeals to those reading the open letter to “not forget that the Students’ Union also consists of students just like us and harassing or defaming them under any circumstance is unacceptable and this is something I will not stand by.”
In response to this incident, a Representative from the Students’ Union has been in contact with the parties in question who have asked the Students’ Union to take no further action at this time. The Students’ Union will respect their wishes and right to privacy in this matter.
The Students’ Union would like to remind all students that “The Students’ Union is a Hate Crime Reporting Centre and if you, or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime or incident, contact our Advice team at email@example.com for confidential support and to have it reported to the police through one of our advisors.“
Lancaster University has said they are taking the allegations relating to an incident in the Library very seriously. A formal student complaint has been lodged and an investigation is ongoing. The complainant was also signposted to support available from the Student Union Advice Service.