No racists at work

June 9, 2006

"The integrity or otherwise of Frank Ellis's views on intelligence and race" is indeed not of any concern to Leeds union members, as your correspondent suggests (Letters, May 26). His bigoted and offensive remarks on ethnic minorities and gays are. These go far beyond being "unpopular".

Gavin Reid gave something of their flavour at the council of the Association of University Teachers when he read out some of Ellis's comments. They were nothing more than racist and homophobic diatribe, and colleagues were appalled by them. Furthermore, union members at Leeds understand perfectly well what academic freedom is all about, and our motion to the AUT council made it clear that this is not the issue; rather the issue is one of bigotry and violation of race relations principles.

We have seen a frightening growth in support for the British National Party in Leeds and the surrounding area, and it is worth noting that Ellis regards the BNP as "too socialist". We must not allow academic freedom to be hijacked by someone who simply wants to insult whole communities in this country.

On that basis Leeds AUT/ University and College Union concurs that the university, as a public body, has a duty under the law "to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups"; it also agrees that the university should place appropriate responsibilities upon its staff as part of its wider race equality policy.

The bottom line is: why should we have to work and study with racists and homophobes? The answer is: we should not.

Steven French

Vice-president, Leeds AUT/UCU

Andrew Stafford

Leeds AUT/UCU member

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