To gag, sack or oppose race tutor 2

March 17, 2006

It is a week since the lecturer Frank Ellis was thrust into notoriety for expounding his views that black people are genetically less intelligent than their white counterparts. There has been, to my knowledge, no response from the Afro Caribbean Students society, nor from any other body that claims to represent black students at Leeds University. This is appalling.

The university, according to its equality and diversity policy, is determined to "treat all individuals fairly, with dignity and respect and ensure that opportunities are equally open to all". The continued employment of a lecturer who has declared his belief in such views seems diametrically opposed to this.

I for one, as someone of dual heritage, feel hurt and offended by the university's continued employment of Ellis. Freedom of speech is a concept outlined by classical Libertarian writers who stipulated, along with the positive freedoms, a moral obligation not to cause offence to others intentionally. Ellis's remarks have clearly managed to cause offence.

It is a nonsense to lend credibility to Ellis's ideas by deeming them an "academic theory". Ellis works in the field of Russian and Slavonic studies. I struggle to see what expertise he can possess in the field of the sociology of education.

We have an obligation, as students, to not allow Ellis's views to go unchallenged. The danger is that by doing nothing we give him a chance to win over the hearts and minds of other students. I do not want this on my conscience.

Ainsley Henn Student of politics and parliamentary studies, Leeds University

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