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Cambridge Indian-origin lecturer says King’s College claims of probe in racism case false

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Priyamvada Gopal says King’s College didn’t conduct a serious investigation in her racial profiling case.

New Delhi: An Indian-origin lecturer at Cambridge University has accused the King’s College in UK of falsely stating that they had conducted a full investigation in a case of alleged racism.

Last week, Priyamvada Gopal accused the porters of King’s College of racial profiling. However, the college gave a clean chit to the porters after an internal investigation.

“There was no investigation in the correct sense of the term and the college falsely claimed it had conducted one,” Gopal told ThePrint Saturday. She said the college didn’t speak to her as part of their inquiry.

Gopal, a specialist in post-colonial literature, announced on Twitter that she won’t supervise the students at the college anymore.

On 18 June, the porters at the King’s allegedly refused to address her as ‘Dr.’ and replied impolitely.

“I repeatedly asked them to address me as ‘Dr Gopal’ and repeatedly failed to get them, including the aggressive Head Porter to whom I attempt to complain to address me as anything other than ‘madam’,” the lecturer said in her tweets. The head porter allegedly responded, “I don’t care who you are”.

Gopal said the porters let the whites enter the campus freely and hassle with the non-whites.

Racial profiling

Right after Gopal’s announcement on Twitter last week, many former and current students also said that the practice of porters racially profiling students at the college was not new.

“My parents visited recently & my (brown) father was stopped & asked if ‘you sir’ was ‘with them’ (me & my white) mother. He’s hard of hearing & so couldn’t understand what I did of that situation, luckily,” said Sarah Jilani in a reply to Gopal’s tweet.

Where some of her colleagues apologised, an alumnus of the King’s College said that nothing has changed in the past two decades. “Know that we support you, this used to happen 20 years ago and I’m surprised the 21st century hasn’t yet arrived,” author Tariq Rashid replied to Gopal’s tweet.

Students accuse that the whites are let into the college freely, whereas the non-white people are scrutinized by the staff.

When asked if she was being targeted by some colleagues, Gopal said, “Yes, some people are saying that I am imagining this and there’s no proof the behaviour was racially charged. However, it should be noted that many non-white students have testified to similar experiences and that many students and staff have also expressed support.”

College denies allegations

The King’s College said it takes pride in being an inclusive and tolerant place where people from all background can feel secure, and abhors racism. However, it denied any wrongdoing on the part of the porters in Gopal’s case.

A college spokesperson told BBC that having a conducted a thorough investigation, they found no wrongdoing on the part of their staff.

“Approximately 700,000 people pass through King’s every year, and we receive fewer than three complaints annually. We have reviewed all complaints over the past three years and confirm that, where we have found our staff to be at fault, we have taken action,” the spokesperson told the BBC.

“There is a longstanding denial of racial profiling and institutional racism as a problem. This is consistent with that,” said Gopal.

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