The University of Cambridge has spoken out in support of among its lecturers who was hit by way of a wave of abusive messages and death threats for tweeting ‘White Lives Don’t Matter’.
Dr Priyamvada Gopal, 51, who teaches in the Faculty of English at Churchill College, took to the social networking platform on Tuesday evening to write: ‘I’ll say it again. White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives.’
However the controversial message, that has since been deleted by Twitter, was met with a barrage of outrage, with lots of people responding both publicly and privately with death threats and racist abuse.
A petition titled ‘Fire Cambridge Professor for Racism’ was also launched on the petition site change.org on Wednesday demanding that Dr Gopal be fired by the university for the comment.
Dr Priyamvada Gopal, 51, who teaches in the Faculty of English at Churchill College, was met by way of a wave of death threats after her message on Tuesday
The Cambridge University professor took to Twitter to write: ‘ll say it again. White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives’
Dr Gopal later shared some of the hate speech she had received, including from a man sending her a picture of a noose and writing: ‘We are coming for you personally you n***er loving bit of s*it’.
As well as sharing some of the worst abuse she’s got received, Dr Gopal – who can also be a journalist and activist – announced that on Wednesday night, the university promoted her to the full Professorship.
She added: ‘I would also like to explain I uphold my tweets, now deleted by Twitter, not me.
‘They were very plainly speaking to a structure and ideology, perhaps not about people.
‘My Tweet said whiteness is not special, not a criterion for making lives matter. I stand by that.’
Following the torrent of abusive messages, the Russel Group University defended the academic and deplored the attacks she’s got faced since her tweet.
A statement released by the university read: ‘The University defends the proper of its academics expressing their own lawful opinions, which others will dsicover controversial.
‘[It] deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease.’
Cambridge University (pictured is Churchill College) said it defended the proper of its academics expressing their own lawful opinions, which others will dsicover controversial
Dr Gopal later explained on social media that she was ‘clearly talking with a structure and ideology, not about people’
Stand-up comedian Nish Kumar arrived on the scene in support of the academic and said it absolutely was ‘awful seeing the hard right mob descend’ Dr Gopal
Meanwhile, the Cambridge branch of the University and College Union (UCU), also showed their solidarity with Dr Gopal.
The union wrote: ‘Solidarity with Priyamvada Gopal – being targeted with vile sexist and racist abuse for speaking facing white supremacists.
‘We are proud to be your colleagues both on the picket line and off it. £BlackLivesMatter £Solidarity.’
Many colleagues and students have since expressed solidarity with Dr Gopal following an incident, with even popular comedian Nish Kumar wading in to call her ‘one of the best and brightest around’.
However, the university’s defence of Gopal has been labelled by some as inconsistent and politically biased.
Critics have pointed to the recent removal of Noah Carl from his research position at St Edmund’s college over links with far right extremist groups.
And others have referred to the university rescinding a visiting fellowship invitation to controversial professor Jordan Peterson in March a year ago.
Opponents of the university’s stance have suggested that the same defence of free speech and tolerance of controversial views was perhaps not extended in these instances.
On June 18, Dr Gopal said that after 17 years of consideration she would not be supervising students at King’s College due to the consistent racial profiling and aggression by porters
Gopal’s tweet has since been removed by Twitter for ‘violating the Twitter Rules’.
The incident comes merely a week following the academic announced she would no more be supervising students from King’s College because of ‘consistently racist profiling and aggression by porters’.
On June 18, Dr Gopal told her 20,000 Twitter followers she was taking the stand ‘on my behalf and of other folks of colour’ calling the specific situation a ‘festering sore’.
She said: ‘With deep regret but with 17 years of consideration behind it, I have finally decided on my behalf & of other folks of colour @Cambridge_Uni to refuse to supervise any students at @Kings_College. ENOUGH IS SUFFICIENT of the consistently racist profiling & aggression by Porters.’
She added: ‘It’s for the students that through the years I’ve hesitated to just take this decision. But I do believe it’s arrive at point where it is for students, BAME students who’ve shared theirr Kings stories with me, that I have to do it.
‘Oh and today, I repeatedly asked them to handle me as ‘Dr Gopal’ and over and over failed to get them to address me as such a thing other than ‘madam’.’
The academic proceeded to say that Kings’ porters treated her differently because she had not been white.
But King’s College hit right back at her claims, saying there was ‘no wrongdoing or discrimination’ from its staff.
A King’s College spokesperson said: ‘We have investigated the incident and found no wrongdoing on the part of our staff.
‘Every visitor was asked to exhibit their card during the course of that day, because the College was closed to everyone except King’s members.
‘Non-members such as for instance Dr Gopal were asked to just take alternatives routes, around the College. This was a matter of procedure, not discrimination.
‘King’s College is a rich and diverse community, and take the wellbeing of its students and staff extremely seriously. We remain committed to as an inclusive and welcoming environment in which to work and study.
‘We categorically deny that the incident referred to was in any way racist.’