Edinburgh Law Soc In Racist Costume Row

UPDATE: 20/112013

Law Students Apologise

The Head of the School of Law at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Lesley McAra, has sent an email to all law students at the university containing an apology from students involved in a race row last Friday.

In the email seen by Fresh Air News the students state,

“We offer our unreserved apology to everyone for the offence our costumes have caused at the Edinburgh University Law Society’s Beerienteering event on Thursday 14th November. We apologise to members of the Law Society, the Law School and to the students at Edinburgh University. We also extend our apology to anyone who may have been offended by our costumes and the images in the media.

We did not intend to cause offence through our costumes. However, after reflecting on our behaviour we now realise it was very insensitive and showed complete and utter disregard for the consequences. We recognise that our costumes did not meet the standard of dignity and respect required by both the University and society as a whole.”

Students from the University of Edinburgh Law Society have been criticised for dressing up us Somali Pirates for the society’s Beerienteering event on Thursday night (November 14).

The event, part of which was held at The Hive nightclub in Edinburgh, was themed “All Around the World.”

In a statement, Keir Gilius, the President of the Law Society said;

“On behalf of the members of our society, we apologise unreservedly for any upset caused.”

He went on to say that at future fancy dress events, costumes which “could be perceived as being offensive” will be discouraged, and wearers will be denied participation in the event.

Mr Gilius continued:

“As a society, we respect our members’ right to freedom of expression; however, cultural insensitivity is intolerable and this is something that we are completely opposed to.”

It’s understood members of of the Tibet Society and Amnesty International Society were among those concerned by the costumes being worn.

Nadia Mehdi, Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) Vice President Societies & Activities, said:

“I’m really shocked to see that in this day and age these students weren’t aware of or chose to ignore the offense they would cause by painting their faces black. It’s not acceptable and should not be condoned. The Law Society is not a EUSA society so we can’t discipline them but I will be bringing this to the attention of the Law School.”

A spokesperson from the Edinburgh Law School at Old College told Fresh Air News:

“The University takes issues relating to equality and diversity very seriously and hopes and expects that all members of the University community do the same. To this end it has a range of relevant policies and procedures in place to address such issues as they arise.”

When asked what action would be taken in this circumstance, the spokesman said:

“The University does not comment on issues surrounding individual students or members of staff, but we have internal policies in place to deal with situations such as this one and will be following these. We would draw your attention to the University policy on Dignity and Respect, which we will be referring to in this case. It is publicly available at http://www.docs.csg.ed.ac.uk/HumanResources/Policies/Dignity_and_Respect_Policy.pdf

FreshAir News became aware of the incident when a message was posted on Facebook to Law Soc members. The Facebook group for Law Soc has since been made private.

Do you think the costumes were racist?

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