CW: racism, transphobia, antisemitism.
Rashmi Samant has announced her resignation from President-elect following controversy regarding her captioning an image of herself in Malaysia with “Ching Chang”, punning on the Holocaust in another Instagram caption, comparing Cecil Rhodes to Hitler in a Student Union presidential debate hosted by the Oxford Blue, and separating “women” and “transwomen” in an Instagram caption.
On Facebook, she stated: “In light of the recent events surrounding my election to the Presidency of the Oxford SU, I believe it is best for me to step down from the role. It has been an honour to be your President-elect”.
Her resignation follows an earlier apology she released addressing the controversies that emerged after she was elected in the highest student turnout of an SU election.
The apology circulated to numerous groups earlier today told students: “I sincerely apologise to every student who has been hurt by my actions or words and seek a chance to gain your trust in me again.”
“I will personally reach out to each community over the next few days and make the utmost efforts to unlearn and relearn nuances of every diverse community so that when it is my time to assume the role of President, I will be the person this community deserves.”
However, this apology was met with criticism. Speaking to Cherwell, Oxford University Chinese Society stated in response to the apology: “Regrettably, we have not yet heard anything directly from Rashimi Samant. Her long-overdue public apology does not seem sincere to the OUCS. In her apology letter, Rashimi seems to be avoiding addressing her mistakes directly, and it does not show her taking responsibility for her insensitivity to race or ignorance towards the trans community. We cannot see Rashimi as the SU president we “rightfully deserve” or trust.”
OUCS further stated their belief that “people can learn from their mistakes and change for the better, so we would like to hear Rashimi’s direct apology before commenting further.”
The Oxford SU Sabbatical Officers have released a statement, saying that “as your elected representatives and in recognition of the Office we hold, we sincerely apologise for the hurt and discomfort caused by the actions of the President-elect.
Oxford SU has a no tolerance policy towards discrimination. Racism, transphobia, and antisemitism have no place in our organisation.
For members wishing to hold their Officers or Officer-elects to account on any and all matters, we would encourage you to make your voice heard through submitting motions to Student Council, or speaking to our Advice Service at: [email protected], who can outline more options available.”