Oxford Union President Resigns After Security Reportedly Dragged A Black Disabled Student By His Ankles From A Debate
The student said he wants the union to acknowledge that he did nothing wrong in the first place.
The president of Oxford Union in England has resigned after a Black blind postgraduate student was “dragged by his ankles” from a society debate, The Guardian reports.
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Ebenezer Azamati, who is Ghanian, arrived early to the debate to get a seat to accommodate his disability, HuffPost notes. He later left the chamber, but when he returned he was denied entry after being told it was full. When a friend came, he re-entered with them but was later forced out by security and expelled from the union.
Henry Hatwell, a 21-year-old law student who was at the debates and witnessed the incident, told CNN that security staff used “disproportionate” force.
Brendan McGrath, president of the society, apologized for the incident and has since resigned. Several other senior officials at the union have also resigned, according to Cherwell, the university’s student magazine.
In his resignation statement, McGrath said he wants there to be an independent review of the union’s policies on disability services as well as a look into staff and security training.
Azamati said the incident made him feel “unwelcome in the union, Oxford and even the country.” He also said that Oxford isn’t doing enough to acknowledge that he did nothing wrong in the first place, according to The Guardian.
“I would like the union to state now, clearly and straightforwardly, that I am not at fault in any way for the way I was treated,” he said in a statement through lawyers.
Oxford University previously tweeted its support for the student.
“We share the widespread outrage regarding the unacceptable treatment of Ebenezer Azamati, a member of our University community, at the Oxford Union. Ebenezer’s college and the University are working to fully support him,” the university said in a statement.
“The Union is an entirely independent club not governed by the University, but this student’s treatment goes against our culture of inclusivity and tolerance – we are pressing the Union for answers on how they plan to remedy the issue and ensure this does not happen in future,” the statement continued.
Oxford Union has a tradition of hosting debates and speakers with a prestigious history, BBC reports. Former British prime minister Harold Macmillan once said the union is “the last bastion of free speech in the Western world.”