A university is investigating claims of racism among law society members, after “vile, deplorable” messages from a private students’ WhatsApp group were shared online.
University of Exeter made the announcement after screenshots showing comments made by those involved in Bracton Law Society were shared by a student.
The university said it was investigating allegations regarding conduct of society leaders and could not comment until the inquiry concluded.
The student who revealed the comments, Arsalan Motavali, said he had reported it to university chiefs and the students’ union, Exeter Guild, prompted in part by a recent report of a black student at another university being subjected to racist abuse.
In a Facebook post, Motavali said: “I’m sure everyone has recently seen the incident of racism at Nottingham Trent University … This event, along with various other factors, have compelled me to finally expose the below screenshots of multiple students of the law school, who have repeatedly made racist and vile comments.”
Screengrabs from the “Dodgy Blokes Soc” group chat posted by Motavali appeared to show messages using racist, sexist and homophobic language. As well as using racist epithets, participants in the group posted messages including “if you ain’t English, go home,” “bomb the mosques” and “we need a race war”.
Bracton Law Society said it had “taken the decision to remove those involved from committee … and indefinitely ban all those involved from the society”.
One student has been dropped from a graduate job following the alleged messages. Hill Dickinson LLP said in a post on Facebook: “Following serious allegations made against an individual who was due to join the firm in September 2019, we have now spoken to the individual and revoked his offer of employment.”
The firm said they were “deeply disturbed” by the messages that were brought to its attention and that the views expressed by the individual and others involved did not “represent the views of the firm”.
Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw said that he was “extremely concerned” by the news about University of Exeter law students. He said it was “imperative” that the incident was investigated “urgently”.
The incident is not the first time racism has been an issue at the university. Last year the university has launched an investigation into one of its sports societies after students were pictured wearing T-shirts bearing antisemitic and racist slogans during a freshers’ week social event.
The investigation follows a separate incident involving the arrest of two men after a black student at Nottingham Trent University, Rufaro Chisango, complained that a group of people subjected her to racist abuse in her hall of residence.
The men, both 18, were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences. Chisango posted a video on Wednesday in which a group of men can be heard chanting “we hate the blacks” and “sign the Brexit papers”.