Oxford Union President Resigns After Blind Student Dragged From Debate

Brendan McGrath, the president of the Oxford Union which is a well-known university debating society, has resigned following the claim over his control of an incident involving a blind student who has been “dragged by his ankles” and then removed from the debating chamber last month.

According to Cherwell, the Oxford university’s student magazine, Other senior post holder of the union also resigned after this inhuman incident.

McGrath’s resignation came after the Oxford University Africa Society (OUAS) launched a petition against him to support the victim.

The incident has come to light after a video tape was released, where Azamati, 25, who is studying international relations, had been manhandle out of the chamber building by security officials. His union card was confiscated and he was expelled from the union.

Soon after, the union’s president called a disciplinary committee meeting, alleging that Azamati had behaved violently by thrusting an arm out and using aggressive hand gestures as he was being removed from his seat.

McGrath said in his resignation letter that posted on the union’s Facebook page on Tuesday evening, that he had failed in his “job to ensure that every member feels welcome.”

The former president also told that he was brought the disciplinary complaint against Azamati at the request of Oxford Union staff.

“The right response would not have begun with prosecution and apportioning blame; it would have addressed immediately the extreme distress of all involved, and pursued constructive solutions to the institutional problems highlighted,” he added.

The Oxford Union published a statement on Monday saying it had reviewed new evidence and heard witness record which proved Azamati was “not guilty in respect of any of the charges brought by the president.” The union also reinstated Azamati’s membership.

Azamati, the victim said, “The union has also stated that there are ongoing discussions with me about putting matters right. That is not correct.”

“The union should explain what it proposes to do and then to listen to what I have to say about its proposals. These steps would make Mr McGrath’s statement and resignation far more meaningful than it currently is,” he added.

“So very sad to read about the way blind, black student Ebenezer Azamati was manhandled by @OxfordUnion. The indignity suffered is beyond comprehension. He deserves far more than an apology,” tweeted British lawmaker David Lammy on Sunday.

“The University of Oxford’s poor track record in improving access for black students – which has been well documented – and the exclusivity of the union and its atmosphere, have combined to create anything but a democratic space in which student voices of all backgrounds can thrive,” wrote Guardian columnist Afua Hirsch on Tuesday.

The Oxford Union is independent of the university and has hosted debates since 1823.

> Dipto Paul



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