Rashmi Samant | Facebook
Rashmi Samant | Facebook
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New Delhi: Students of colour need protection from the prevailing culture of cancelling people, said Rashmi Samant, former president-elect of Oxford University Student Union (OUSU).

The 22-year-old had stepped down as president-elect on 16 February after some of her old social media posts emerged, which were declared as anti-semitic and racist.

In an interview to ThePrint, the Oxford University student said that foreign universities should have regulations to protect students of colour from being cancelled.

“Since we are not from the same culture and do not prescribe to the social developments of their society, it is possible that non-natives may be unaware of these ideologies. There is nothing that is being done to protect students. I believe foreign universities need regulations to protect students of colour from being cancelled,” said Samant.

She added: “There is a mob out there, who very strongly believes that it is their responsibility to call out people. They do it viciously, with a certain conviction and aggression, but they don’t realise the damage that they create. It is based on an ideology. When they hold a position of power people start believing them.”

The Manipal Institute of Technology alumnus is currently back in her home state Karnataka for some “time off” after the controversy around her posts made headlines.


Also read: These 6 children books by Dr. Seuss won’t be published again, over ‘hurtful & wrong’ imagery


‘Racial profiling, inherent bias involved’

Samant was the first Indian female to be elected as the president of the OUSU and was due to begin in June this year. She had won the election on 11 February, winning 1,966 out of a possible 3,708 votes.

However, some of her old social media posts, from 2017, emerged and were characterised as ‘racist’, ‘anti-semitic’ and ‘transphobic’.

In one such post, she had captioned a photo from Malaysia, “Ching Chang”. In another photo, she could be seen posing outside a Berlin Holocaust Memorial and the accompanying caption read: “The memorial *CASTS* a *HOLLOW* dream of the past atrocities and deeds”.

As it happens, Samant’s campaign agenda was “tackling institutional homophobia and transphobia” and “empathy towards marginalised groups”.

After these posts emerged, the Oxford Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality (CRAE) and Oxford LGBTQ+ Campaign had called for her resignation. In a statement, CRAE said that not only had she posted racially insensitive captions on social media but “proceeded to deny the harm caused by her actions when questioned”.

According to Samant, who is pursuing an MSc in energy systems with a focus on sustainability at the university, an element of racial profiling and inherent bias was involved in this circumstance.

“Had I looked a certain way, then I am sure I would have been given the benefit of doubt … in my case they immediately rushed to conclusions. Racism now does not exist overtly but in covert behaviour like this,” she told ThePrint.

Furthermore, Samant noted, that certain professors even found photos of her mother carrying a plaque that said ‘Jai Shree Ram’.

“The professors in Oxford called found my mother’s pictures and labelled her Islamophobic and a bigot. It is unfair and borders on stalking and harassment. Had they done it to any other national with a government or diaspora strong enough to retaliate?” said Samant.

“My mother has the freedom of expression, she has the right to practice her religion,” she added.


Also read: Yale University is accused of bias against Asian American and White applicants


Twitter responds

After Samant was asked to step down as president of the OUSU, Indians on Twitter began accusing Oxford University of being ‘anti-Hindu’. Several people tweeted with the hashtag #AntiHinduOxfordUniversity.

However, Samant said, “I don’t know who started it (the hashtag) but I don’t endorse it.”

Several Twitter users were especially angered by the university faculty targeting Samant’s mother for holding a ‘Jai Shree Ram’ photo.

Samant, meanwhile, noted that she was considering pursuing legal action against the university professor who allegedly made derogatory statements against her and her family.

“We Indians try to hide our religious identity in foreign countries, we suffer in silence and avoid being in the spotlight. I do not prescribe to those norms. I am considering filing a defamation suit against the professor who made the accusations,” she said.

(Edited by Rachel John)

This report has been updated after Rashmi Samant clarified that she intends to file a defamation suit against the professor who made accusations against her mother.


Also read: ‘I am a cultural leech’ — White US professor apologises for pretending to be Black for years


 

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Masonda Ketada Olivier was a Congolese student who died from assault in the Indian city of New Delhi. Please address rascism against African students n those from north eastern states n lower castes in India. How many foreigners become president of student unions in India?

  2. Foreigners know how to suppress Indian but more dangerous thing is that our people involved in this process to do this in the name of freedom of expression and fight against so called discrimination movement.
    Insaan ke sath sath humne saap v Pala hai.

  3. We are dealing with 2 sets of missing-links here:

    1: Those from the left who have relentlessly and needlessly attacked thus 21 year old for tweets probably made when she was a teenager.

    2: Those from the Hindu right who now extrapolate from this incident and regard it as being an attack on Hinduism and a manifestation of Britain’s “rampant” Hinduphobia.

    One is left with a sick feeling in the stomach when one hears that people, especially student peers and a professor of all persons would stoop so low as to bully a young girl alone in a distant land. One wonders why the University did not step in to counsel Ms Rashmi Samant and do more to stop these vicious attacks. I hope Oxford University gets its act together and goes the extra mile to ensure that Ms Samant’s education and well being are looked after.

    That said, India’s prickly Hindutva crowd shouts from rooftops that this is an instance of rampant Hinduphobia and milks it for all it is worth. Tweets galore are generated and there is one more excuse to indulge in a bit of Britain bashing . Yes, racism and discrimination are serious problems in Britain. But this episode is certainly not primarily a manifestation of racism alone. Ingredients like political correctness taken too far; cultural codes not being understood; pranksters – liberals as well as conservatives -who bristle at Modi’s fascism and wrongly see Ms Samant as an exemplar of that, Pakistanis peeved at an Indian girl making it to the top and so on are all ingredients of this goulash.

    Additionally, Ms Samant herself does her cause no favours by portraying this as an attack on her religion and allowing herself to be used as a pawn for India’s Hindutva friendly media. One nearly gets the impression that she badly wants to get a BJP ticket to fight another election !

    And finally, on a personal note: I have had some success in getting many of the younger members of my family to get off Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and severely curtail their posting activities on these social media platforms. A distant nephew who had indulged in a spot of Hindutva inspired Britain bashing on Twitter suddenly realised that he wanted to study in a prestigious university in Britain and live in Britain … and didn’t want the Tweets to be used against him …

  4. This woman can’t seem to take any kind of accountability for her actions. She’s a racist that got caught for her deplorable ideology and opinions. She could have handled this properly and said that she did have that mindset but she has grown up to realize that she was in the wrong. She could have also said that she’s taking accountability for her actions and made the decision to step down from her posts, etc. Instead, she says that because she’s a woman of colour that she can’t be a racist, and that the accusations that she is a racist is cancel culture.

    Girl, until you take accountability for your racism, I do not feel an ounce of sympathy for you. The consequences that you receive for your actions is very well deserved in my opinion.

  5. In a country where the likely colour of the great grandson of the Monarch is an issue, what else can be expected from the society as a whole.
    Obviously the students going there have their priorities mixed up when the expect the hypocrisies of the society to become realities or try to make them so.
    Get the best out of them, don’t try to change them, they will not until you are richer than them as a country.
    So long as you want something from them, you will have to pay the price in different ways including the discrimination.
    .

    • Mr Vijay Galande: If there is any country where you get discriminated on the basis of skin colour and there is social sanction for it, it must be India. Indian, making people fair-skinned is a multi-billion dollar industry in India.

      Indians are some of the worst racists in the world. Want to know how African students are treated in India?

      And no, the fact that Indians are some of the worst racists in the world is no excuse or rationalisation for British racism – assuming that was what was the issue in this case.

  6. Don’t believe her story, she is a typical Leftists with loads of hypocrisy, she is playing Victim card and dragging Jai Sri Ram controversy, she would have been with fellow Jihadists if this controversy not erupted.

  7. The comments of Rashmi from her younger days are no different from those of many of the students I went to college with. Such comments were primarily borne out of their ignorance of anything outside their own little social bubbles, leave alone an understanding of the european history or racism in heterogeneous societies and the gravity of the historical crimes involved. I have no doubt such insensitive comments carried absolutely no malice. Rashmi may have said ching chang about an Asian before she ever met a real asian in person, but I am sure she would have treated every asian she met at Oxford for the first time in her life with nothing but utmost respect. It is criminal to hold a youthful utterance against her for the rest of her life. The treatment meted out to Rashmi is nothing but vicious hate speech and a serious crime committed by the Oxford “liberal” crowd under what seems to be approving eyes of the University administration. I hope Rashmi will pursue legal action action against the hate speech writers and the University itself for failing to protect a student against crime by its own employees.

  8. Ms. Damant must press charges against the professor. Unless we stand up to Hinduphobia and combat it, it will keep on destroying lives and opportunities.
    The greeting “Jai Shri Ram” is an integral part of our culture. To accuse us of Islamophobia because of this is atrocious. Am pretty sure that the professor is from the Leftist cabal or a Muslim himself/herself.

  9. How does talking about one’s religious identify demean any other religion? Very scientific logic coming from a reputed university. And then they are surprised why so many people are annoyed by these thugs who are relentlessly insulting Hinduism.

  10. Why hide the name of the Oxford Professor who led the charge on Rashmi ? Why not name and shame Professor Abhijit Sarkar ? It’s all over the place.

  11. Forward castes in india- there is no casteism in India. It’s myth.
    Their privileged children who study in UK USA- there is so much racism but reservationin India must be abolished as there is no caste discrimination in India.
    Reality- Indian caste discrimination is worst than racism and so systemic and entrenched and thrives on idea of purity.

    • hello sir have you ever faced caste based discrimination in getting admission in any government college .BUT i do face it becaused i am from general category.I never did anything wrong nor my father and grandfather than why i should suffer just because you declared me from kshtriya caste. i dont think you are conerned indian.And beleiving that i some comes from orwar castes is rich and can study abroad is just your big myth. AND I STAND AGAINST CASTE DISCRIMINATION AND MOST OF THE PEOPLE DO.YOU JUST WANT PROPEL THIS FOREVER JUST TO GAT THE BENEFIT TILL ETERNITY.

Comments are closed.