• Monday, August 15, 2022

Column

Samant stands down

(Photo: iStock).

By: Radhakrishna N S

By Amit Roy

RASHMI SAMANT found out the hard way last week that those who live by Twitter can die by Twitter – or Instagram or the various forms of social media.

Rashmi was elected presi­dent of the Oxford Students’ Union (SU) by a handsome margin – she got 1,966 votes out of 3,708 cast – but had to resign almost immediately. This is because someone went through her past social media posts and found she had posted a picture of her­self in Malaysia that was captioned “Ching Chang”.

On the controversy about the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oriel College, she had com­mented: “If an organisation would come up to you and give you a heap of money to set up a scholarship and say, ‘I want to name this the Hit­ler fund or the Hitler schol­arship’, would you do it?”

The LGBTQ+ Campaign was also “alarmed” by some­thing she had said.

Rashmi sought to head off the mounting calls for her resignation, but in the end she announced on Face­book: “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.”

Then she flew back home to India to get away from her fall from grace.

Being an ethnic minority woman from a former British colony, she had promised as part of her election cam­paign “to lobby the Universi­ty and Conference of Colleg­es to remove all statues proven to be imperialist and conduct a comprehensive consultation on the decolo­nisation of syllabi”, and also “divest entire the financial portfolio from fossil fuels”.

In a way, I feel sorry for Rashmi. We would all be in trouble if we are held to ac­count for things we might have once said in our mad­der moments. In British uni­versities, students find it all too easy to be offended these days, so much so that the government is appointing a “free speech champion”.

Anyone with ambitions of a public life should adopt the new safety-first law of social media: cancel all your accounts and don’t say any­thing about anything.

Eastern Eye

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