A number of university students have received disciplinary action for making offensive, racist or homophobic remarks on social media, it has been revealed.
Data obtained through freedom of information requests from 92 universities in the UK showed 277 students have been sanctioned for posting Islamophobic, racist and homophobic content online in the past three years, reported The Guardian.
University of Central Lancashire and the University of Bedfordshire took the highest number of disciplinary actions, with 22 students being disciplined.
One University of Surrey student was given a year-long suspension for racist and antisemitic jokes on Facebook and another was expelled for racist posts on Instagram.
Thomas Lancaster, a senior teaching fellow at Imperial College London, called the findings “very worrying”.
He said: “Racist and homophobic remarks can’t be dismissed. From my student support role, I know that students have enough challenges to deal with and they don’t need ill-thought-out, so-called pranks from their peers to add to these.
“If a student does feel that they’re being targeted on social media, I’d encourage them to let staff know so that we can address this.”
Universities are meant to provide a safe environment for students, said Lancaster, and added that students need to think before they post.
Dr Omar Khan, the director of the Runnymede Trust, a race equality think tank, said these figures are likely “to be the tip of the iceberg, with many incidents going unreported”.
“The findings remind us that a university education is no inoculation against racism, and the extent of discriminatory attitudes and behaviours across society … The threat of racism on campuses is being downplayed in media-driven moral panics on free speech, and university administrators must ensure they protect BME students from violence and harassment,” Khan was quoted as saying.