Current Affairs

Former Christ Church Boat Club committee member admits to defacing George Floyd image

A member of the Christ Church College Boat Club (ChChBC) has admitted to defacing an image of George Floyd at a party, and referring to two other students as a “state-school c**t”. 

The individual in question was involved in an incident at Christ Church JCR hustings, where they wrote a speech delivered by another student making racially insensitive comments about the death of George Floyd. The offensive comment referring to state school students was made after the individual realised they had been identified as part of the hustings incident and another student was making this public knowledge. They also referred to a former friend with the same offensive comment and used it in an email exchange. 

At the party in question, the individual was dared to pour wine over an image depicting victims of police brutality in the USA, including George Floyd. This was recorded at the party and has since been circulated. 

In emails, seen by The Blue, the individual responded to the accusations, stating that, “In regards to the wine and BLM picture, I was unaware of knowledge of it widely surfacing in the ChChBC community (as of yet). It was a party; and I was quite intoxicated when I did it.” Regarding the comment, they continued, “The precise words referred to the girl’s attendance at a state school and to a common insult. It was meant to be a flippant comment.”

This confession comes in response to an email sent to senior members of Christ Church College Boat Club from an anonymous complainant, stating, “They [BAME students] have been upset by the lack of significant response to the video which many of them have received of [a member] defiling a picture of George Floyd. Some current members are also upset by the ‘slur’ – to use their ostensible words for it – that was used against a girl from a disadvantaged background.”The complainant notes in their email, in regards to an adequate response from the boat club, that, “I do not know if there has been a Boat Club initiated private response, but: the ones who need to see the response have not seen it.” They then recommend, “perhaps a public condemnation an another complete, public apology, and some form of smaller but significant BC-initiated punishment to show public accountability.”

This is not the first time that Christ Church has been hit with accusations of racist behaviour by its rowers. In 2017, another rower was banned from college events, after dressing up as a Klu Klux Klan member for a college party. 

Christ Church College are facing mounting pressure from the wider Oxford community to foster a more inclusive environment after racially insensitive comments were made about the death of George Floyd in JCR hustings earlier this month. Since then, over 15 Oxford College JCRs have condemned the incident and the manner in which it was handled by those in positions of authority within the college.

Christ Church College have commented:

“Christ Church does not tolerate racism or discrimination in any form. We have unequivocally condemned the remarks that were made at the JCR Hustings on May 31. Disciplinary proceedings are underway in regards to the remarks and other related matters. Until the investigation has been completed and all the relevant evidence has been considered, it would not be appropriate to comment further.

“Christ Church is committed to combatting racism and prejudice of all kinds through concrete action. Last month, we announced a new partnership with Femi Otitoju, founder of Challenge Consultancy, to develop a series of listening events for all students and all staff, academic as well as non-academic. These sessions will help us find new ways to talk about race, to listen and learn, and to identify further steps to address issues around racial equality, diversity, and inclusion. The process will help us develop a long-term action plan that will review our training provision and set new goals intended to make a real impact.”

Christ Church College Boat Club commented:

“Christ Church Boat Club unequivocally condemns racism and unjust inequality in all forms. The world is reacting to deep rooted injustices, and the Club stands with those changing the world for the better. Two of our members were directly involved in the incident that occurred at JCR Hustings and we have been recently made aware of further allegations against one of the individuals involving a video and use of some unacceptable language. We condemn their actions in Hustings and have made clear to them that such behaviour will not be tolerated in our Club and community. One of the individuals in question resigned from their committee positions and neither will be considered for crew selection until we have fully investigated these allegations. In order to ensure we reach the correct and just outcome, this investigation will most likely conclude after college concludes its disciplinary proceedings and we are aware of as much of the information as possible.

“Recent events have given us reason to reflect on our Club and on our sport. The reality is that our sport is not nearly diverse enough. We have been liaising with Fulham Reach Boat Club on how we can enter a partnership with them to make lasting change. FRBC is a charity which aims to improve diversity in rowing and access to the sport. We hope to launch this partnership at this year’s Christ Church Regatta, by raising funds for FRBC and, if circumstances allow, opening the regatta up to their novice crews. Christ Church Boat Club is open to diversity and open to change.”

The individual in question has declined to comment.

Corrections:

This article was amended at 07.18am on 03/07/2020 to include Christ Church College Boat Club’s statement

This article was amended at 07.25am on 03/07/20 to clarify that the Oxford rower was called up to row in 2018 and that he was a student at Christ Church and not a Boat Club member.

The title of this article was amended at 07.30am on 03/07/20 from “Christ Church College Committee Member asked to resign after defacing Geroge Floyd image” to the above title.

Gabriella Emery

Gabriella Emery is one of the Editors-in-Chief at The Oxford Blue. She reads Classics and French at Wadham College and is going into her second year. When not ruining all things light and wonderful like Christmas (or your dignity and pride), her hobbies include: bullying the Managing Director, fangirling the M&S Deli Counter or confusing having a dog with having a personality.