Law student and conservative commentator, 20, claims Durham University failed to take racist abuse seriously after she was called the N-word
- Samantha Smith, 20, says she was called N-word at a Durham University party
- Conservative commentator Miss Smith says alleged abuser showed no remorse
A law scholar today accused her university of going soft on a fellow student who allegedly racially abused her.
Samantha Smith, 20, said she was called the N-word at a late-night gathering of the Durham Union, the university’s oldest and largest society.
She formally complained about the incident and a university probe upheld her complaint. The other student, who the Mail is not naming, was banned from contacting her, told to write an apology and asked to do 100 hours of community service.
But Miss Smith, a Conservative commentator with white and Afro-Hispanic heritage, insists the punishment is inadequate. She says her alleged abuser showed no remorse and should have been banned from campus.
Samantha Smith, 20, said she was called the N-word at a late-night gathering of the Durham Union, the university’s oldest and largest society
Miss Smith, a Conservative commentator with white and Afro-Hispanic heritage, insists the punishment is inadequate
He strongly denied uttering the slur but the probe found otherwise, on the balance of the evidence.
Miss Smith, from Shropshire, said: ‘I put faith in the process, and I put faith in the university but I feel let down, degraded, pushed aside and angry.
‘I fear that if this has happened in as clear cut a case as mine and this is how they dealt with it, what is it going to be like for other students?
‘I also fear that he is going to be around me for the next two years and I could run into him any day.
‘Durham is a very small place. He is a very intimidating guy, and he scares me.’
The incident happened during a Union party last May, when a group of youngsters were talking and mentioned Miss Smith and her posts on Twitter.
The second-year law student said: ‘I had said something about how I hadn’t personally experienced racism at Durham – which up to that point I hadn’t – and that [while] racism does occur and I’d experienced racism growing up … I didn’t believe Britain is institutionally racist.’
Miss Smith insists she still loves Durham but plans to take the matter to the university ombudsman
She said that after her name was mentioned, the student said: ‘Well that’s surprising, seeing as she is a dirty n*****.’
Miss Smith did not attend the party but was told what happened by a witness.
Asked how she felt on being the target of racism, she said: ‘Initially, I was just in shock.
‘I’ve been called all sorts – half-caste, brownie, illegal, border hopper – but that sort of language sounds like something straight out of the 1950s.
‘The fact that one of my peers – someone who is clearly intelligent enough to get into Durham – saw fit to use such an outdated, derogatory slur honestly shocked me.’
The Union probe found in her favour and the student was kicked out of the society and banned from attending its events.
Miss Smith then formally complained to the university and says she is disappointed it imposed a seemingly softer punishment than the Union.
Miss Smith insists she still loves Durham but plans to take the matter to the university ombudsman.
A university spokesman said: ‘We are deeply sorry that one of our students has experienced abuse.
‘We do not tolerate racism in any form and entirely condemn language of this kind.
‘These allegations have been investigated by both Durham University and the Durham Union Society.
‘Sanctions have been imposed in line with university policies and processes which go much further than those disclosed on social media.
‘We are concerned that the apology was not commensurate with the very serious nature of the offence.
‘We will learn from this. In future, as part of our disciplinary processes, we will endeavour to ensure that responding parties offer meaningful apologies which fully acknowledge what has gone wrong, and accept full responsibility for this.’