"Her long-overdue public apology does not seem sincere"
Oxford University’s first Indian female President of the Students’ Union, Rashmi Samant, has quit after “racist” and “insensitive” social media posts from her past were unearthed.
Her resignation comes days after her election win.
The student from Karnataka was accused of racism after she captioned a photo of herself in Malaysia with the words “Ching Chang”.
She previously claimed that the phrase translates from Mandarin to “eat the plants”, however, Mandarin speakers said the term is a reverse Google translation not used by native speakers.
Ms Samant also made a pun in relation to the Holocaust while at the memorial in Berlin.
The post was captioned: “The memorial *CASTS* a *HOLLOW* dream of the past atrocities and deeds.”
Ms Samant was also accused of transphobia after writing “women, transwomen and men”, separating women from transwomen.
Ms Samant issued an apology for her comments but following continued pressure from various groups, she announced her resignation.
She wrote 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.”
The Oxford Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality (CRAE) condemned her social media comments.
Meanwhile, the Oxford University Chinese Society (OUCS) said:
“Regrettably, we have not yet heard anything directly from Rashmi Samant.
“Her long-overdue public apology does not seem sincere to the OUCS.
“In her apology letter, Rashmi seems to be avoiding addressing her mistakes directly, and it does not show her taking responsibility for her insensitivity to race or ignorance towards the trans-community.
“We cannot see Rashmi as the SU president we ‘rightfully deserve’ or trust.”
However, she was defended by the Free Speech Union. A spokesperson said:
“She has apologised for the things she said and that should have been enough.
“Publicly shaming young people and hounding them from the public square just because they’ve said something a bit daft on social media will deter all but the most boring to get involved in student politics.”
Ms Samant became the first Indian President of the Oxford University Student Union last week following their biggest-ever turnout for voting.
She scored a landslide win, receiving 1,966 of the 3,708 votes.
Ms Samant had positioned herself as an “inclusivity” candidate in the election and campaigned to “decolonise” the Oxford syllabus.
Her manifesto also included plans to “tackle institutional homophobia and transphobia, first through conducting a university-wide consultation with the LGBTQ+ community”.
It read: “Being a BAME woman from a former British colony, Rashmi is empathetic towards the struggles faced by marginalised groups.”
In the wake of the controversy, the Sabbatical Officers of the Students’ Union released a statement.
They said: “As your elected representatives and in recognition of the Office we hold, we sincerely apologise for the hurt and discomfort caused by the actions of the President-elect.
“Oxford SU has a no-tolerance policy towards discrimination. Racism, transphobia, and antisemitism have no place in our organisation.”
Following a resignation, a by-election will now be held to elect a new SU President.