Oxford University has launched an inquiry into an alleged incidence of racism committed by a porter at St John’s College. When visiting the college, a black alumnus was asked if he used to “rob” the college during his time as a student.
Returning to the College on 5th November, the graduate had attempted to tour his former place of study before encountering the porter.
Tweeting a day after the incident took place, he wrote: “Ey I went to my old college in Oxford yesterday to look round again. At the door I explained to the porter that I used to go there & he replied ‘What did you do, clean the windows? Rob it?’”
Following this, he filed a complaint with the college, prompting the opening of an investigation by the university.
In a statement released in response to these events on 7th November, the college said: “St John’s College is committed to ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of a diverse college community where there is no place for discrimination of any kind.
“We are aware of a Twitter post about discriminatory language reportedly used by a member of staff towards a visitor. We are investigating this incident as a matter of urgency and will take action as appropriate.” The result of the investigation is as yet unknown.
The tweet has been shared multiple times, with considerable support being shown for the graduate in response to the porter’s comments.
Allegations of racism committed by porters in Oxford have not been rare over the last few years, with an investigation by Cherwell in 2018 uncovering at least 14 testimonies from students of colour which suggested they had been unfairly targeted by porters, being asked for identity or to justify the purpose of their visit, whilst white students were not submitted to the same process.
Increasing and disproportionate complaints of black students being questioned upon entering college grounds prompted the Students’ Union last year to express the view that all porters should be given unconscious bias training in order to prevent potentially discriminatory behaviour.