Ditch swastika ad, college told

April 22, 2005

Lecturers and student leaders have called for the withdrawal of a prospectus carrying a spoof advert for a punk night at a nightclub called Spades that juxtaposes a swastika with a Union Flag.

Lecturers' union Natfhe and the National Union of Students said that the 100-page glossy prospectus for University College Falmouth was deeply offensive. They said it sent out an unacceptable message from a sector committed to widening access to non-traditional and minority groups.

Hannah Essex, NUS vice-president, said: "At a time when universities should be doing their utmost to encourage students to their institution, what sort of message is this disgusting and useless spoof advert with its racist imagery sending to any prospective student, and particularly those from minority backgrounds?"

The NUS is adamant that the prospectus be withdrawn, not least because it includes an "NUS" concession price for the fake club.

But the college, formerly Falmouth College of Art, defended the advert and refused to withdraw it.

The advert for the punk night is carried on the back page of the prospectus.

Alan Livingston, principal of University College Falmouth, said: "The back cover of the 2006 University College Falmouth prospectus is an imaginary poster advertising a punk night.

"The prospectus has been designed in magazine style and contains several such 'advertisements', some of which are real, to suggest the wide range of spare-time activities for Falmouth students.

"The image is a photograph from a leading photographic archive. Taken in May 1977, it shows the back of a leather-clad punk with a swastika and a Union Jack decorating his jacket. It is an authentic representation of the British punk movement.

"As with most works of art, the design of the back cover must be interpreted and understood within the context determined by the designer.

In this case, the context is very clear. Punks were casual and irreverent in the way they used icons and symbols. In the context of punk, this imagery has lost almost all meaning."

He said that some 5,000 potential students had seen the new prospectus and that their response to it had been enthusiastic.

"As a college of art, design and media, we are in the business of using and reusing imagery creatively in new and unexpected ways. We may surprise or shock, but we do not seek to offend," Mr Livingston said.

"We have agreed that we will adapt the prospectus by applying a sticker to the back cover."

Russell Clarke, Natfhe branch secretary, told the local newspaper, the Falmouth Packet : "The prospectus in its current form is not only offensive to potential readers, but also to the academic community that it purports to represent."

phil.baty@thes.co.uk

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