Blacked-up student party ‘racist’

Friday, 11th December 2009


Students who dressed up as prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and “blacked-up” their faces for a Christmas party have been accused of racism.
The students, part of the rugby team from the London School of Economics (LSE), were in costume for the annual “carol” last Friday, an “all-day drinking” event organised by the university’s Athletics Union.
They wore orange jumpsuits, with some painting their faces brown and drawing on beards.
At around 1pm, outside the Student Union bar, in full public view, they proceeded to imitate Muslim prayer while other team members dressed as American soldiers shouted orders at them.
It took place just as Muslim students were leaving the nearby Old Building after Friday prayer. They went on from the Houghton Street venue to the Den nightclub in West ­Central Street, Holborn, which was packed with Friday night revellers from across the capital.
Following complaints, a joint statement was released by both unions condemning the “racist” and “immature” actions of the students, adding that their intent was not “malicious”.
Samer Araabi, an LSE student who witnessed the prank as he walked past the Student Union bar, said: “It was unquestionably one of the most insulting, offensive, and downright frightening acts of racism I have ever ­witnessed.”
He added: “As an Arab Muslim, actions like that don’t make me feel safe on my own campus.”
Before the event, Charlie Glyn, the Athletics Union president, asked that things be kept tasteful and has subsequently ­condemned the actions of some students.
In a letter to all sports club captains, Mr Glyn wrote: “The decision by some to wear racially offensive fancy dress and to behave in a ­completely inappropriate manner has not only put me in a very difficult position, but also our future events.”
The joint unions statement said: “Having spoken to the respective teams, there was no malicious or racist intent in their ill-thought out and immature actions, but nevertheless the interpretations and responses to their actions should have been more closely ­considered and it is clear that some people intended to cause offence and outrage.”
The Athletics Union has since introduced new measures that will mean that every ­costume must be approved before any event, with disciplinary procedures for those who do not comply.

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