Oxford Union BME officer threatens resignation after race row

Oxford Union poster for the Reparations Debate Cocktail

Oxford Union poster for the Reparations Debate Cocktail - Credit: Archant

The black minority ethnic (BME) officer at a union at Oxford University hopes lessons will be learnt after a huge race row engulfed the student community last week.

Esther Odejimi, of Chadwell Heath Lane, Chadwell Heath, decided to resign from her role at the Oxford Union after an advertisement for a cocktail named “Colonialism Comeback” was made public.

The beverage was to be sold at a union debate, where the motion was “This House believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies.”

An image of black hands in chains was printed on the poster above the cocktail title:

“The Colonial Comeback!”

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Ms Odejimi told Cherwell – the university’s student newspaper – the poster “was ridiculously insensitive” and she was “disgusted” at the union’s behaviour towards her and “the wider black community”.

The Oxford Union is legally separate from the university and the official student representative body.

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Ms Odejimi also wrote in her statement: “I want nothing to do with them at all.

“I’m disgusted. Racism is definitely not dead.”

However, Ms Odejimi seems to have withdrawn her position since Thursday’s debate.

In a statement to the Recorder, she wrote: “I have received an adequate apology from the union for their marginalisation of the ‘BME officer’ role, and I look forward to seeing how they will take steps towards dealing with this issues at hand, with the help of myself and the BME community of Oxford University.”

The university moved quickly to distance itself from the event.

A university spokesman said: “There is no place at Oxford for the kind of crass and insensitive attitude that the material produced by the Oxford Union suggests.”

The spokesman added if a student was to display similar material the university would “immediately take action”.

Since the original furore, the Oxford Union’s governing body has passed a unanimous motion recognising that it is “institutionally racist” following an outcry over “The Colonial Comeback” cocktail.

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