Huddersfield students debate call for duke to quit as chancellor

University stands by royal in fallout from Newsnight interview about ties with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein

November 18, 2019
University of Huddersfield
Source: iStock
University of Huddersfield

Students at the University of Huddersfield were set to debate a motion calling for the Duke of York to quit as chancellor of the institution, after his widely criticised BBC interview about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

According to the motion, the university and its student union “should not be represented by a man with ties to organised child sexual exploitation and assault”.

The proposal, which was due to be discussed on 18 November, was first put forward in September this year when the allegations against the royal surfaced. On 16 November, the duke gave a controversial interview to the BBC about the accusations and his friendship with Mr Epstein, in which he denied any sexual contact with a woman who says she was forced to have sex with him at the age of 17. 

According to the motion, the allegations and the duke’s friendship with Mr Epstein “make him an utterly unsuitable representative for us here at the University of Huddersfield. Royal author Angela Levin has already called for him to be suspended from royal duties – we can and should do the same and find a chancellor who better represents the values we hold”.

“We need to put survivors of sexual assault above royal connections and show students, alumni, and prospective students that this institution cares about their well-being, irrespective of the status of the alleged perpetrator,” the motion adds.

Emmanuel Haruna, president of Huddersfield Students’ Union, said that “as part of our processes to give students a voice, a student has put forward a motion to lobby Prince Andrew to resign as chancellor. This was already scheduled to go to a termly student jury which is taking place tonight. A representative sample of the student body will discuss this idea and the outcome will be published on the students’ union website in the next couple of days.”

Tristan Smith, the student who submitted the motion, told Times Higher Education that “as a student, I hope that the process will lead to some form of action and eventually, the removal of Prince Andrew from his position as chancellor of my university”.

This is not the first time that students have called for the royal’s resignation: in 2018 the Labour Students group said he should step down as chancellor over his “blasé” attitude to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A Huddersfield spokesman said that the duke had “long ties” with the university stretching back nearly two decades.

“As chancellor, he has taken a keen interest in the work of the university and has represented it in his official capacity on numerous occasions…His enthusiasm for innovation and entrepreneurship is a natural fit with the work of the university,” the spokesman said.

“In relation to the allegations, the Palace has previously issued an emphatic denial and this was reiterated in the BBC interview with the Duke of York and we have nothing further to add.”

anna.mckie@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

There used to be a saying, a 'fair weather friend' - someone who abandons their friends as soon as there is any kind of difficulty - and it was seen as shallow and dishonourable. It now seems that this is the modern ideal... that as soon as there is the slightest issue, everyone scrambles to distance themselves from an individual who has got into trouble even before it has been proven that they've done something wrong... of course, the person who is not a fair weather friend might still stick by them, even when they condemn the wrongful action they still support their friend in sorting things out.

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