Earlier this week, The Mancunion, the University of Manchester’s student paper, reported that racist graffiti had been directed towards one of the candidates standing in the student union elections.
On Monday, it was discovered that the posters of a student standing to be the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Officer had been defaced and vandalised with the racist slur “Paki”.
The victim was reportedly embarrassed and unwilling to come forward at first until a friend alerted her to further defaced posters.
Only a couple of days before, meanwhile, the posters of two other candidates standing for BME Officer cut up with scissors and removed from the Student Union.
These are not the first incidents of racist graffiti appearing on campaign material in student union elections at the University of Manchester, with a candidate standing in the Exec Officer elections having campaign materials defaced with a swastika last term.
A number of student societies have condemned these latest incidents, including Manchester Labour Students (MLS), who said:
“MLS are shocked by these incidents, of racist language and disruption to campaigning materials like banners and posters, it is totally unacceptable and has affected members of our society in MLS and the whole BAME community. MLS is disgusted and sickened that this kind of attitude exists on our campus and in society and we are totally committed to stamping out all forms of racism.
We call on the University and the Students Union to thoroughly investigate these incidents and will be pushing them to take action against any person found responsible for these incidents.”
Here at Student Rights, we echo MLS’s sentiments. Racism has no place on campus and we urge university authorities to take these reports seriously and discipline the perpetrators.
The events at Manchester follow a similar incident at a social night hosted by Exeter University Snow Sports Society.
Like Exeter, these racist incidents in Manchester do not appear to be part of a coordinated campaign by an external far-right movement. However, Student Rights will keep a close eye on the situation.
The sudden spike in racist activity at the beginning of this academic year is alarming. Student Union Elections should be contested without such disruptions and students should never put off standing for office for fear of racism.