Students at Hatfield college have been reprimanded for using the N-word at the Lion in Winter ball, which took place on 3rd March.
Anthony Bash, Senior Tutor at Hatfield, stated in an email that the song ‘Gold Digger’ by Kanye West was sung during a karaoke act in its uncensored version.
The notice reads: “Those who sang the song in its unexpurgated form apologise for the offence they caused.
“There was no intention on the part of the Ball organisers to cause offence through the karaoke act.
“Steps are being taken to ensure that an enhanced risk assessment is undertaken for future College events to ensure that the events are not at risk of causing offence.”
The report of the incident comes after an email from Antony Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost on 3rd April, stating that the university does not “accept any form of prejudice or discrimination at Durham University and we condemn any incidents of racism in the strongest possible terms.”
A second-year Hatfield student who was present at the ball has said: “I’m glad the incident has been brought to light. Various people went up to sing karaoke and I think it was two guys who performed ‘Gold Digger’.
“They were throwing around the N word and seemed to enjoy saying it. It made me feel really really uncomfortable.
“One of the security guards standing to the left of the stage was black and I noticed him because he clearly found the whole thing unbelievable. I could tell that he was affected by it. He seemed to find it unbearable, as I am sure many people in the room did. He was evidently upset by the deeply offensive and unapologetic performance.”
Durham People of Colour Association (DPOCA) commented on the incident: “According to reports by persons in attendance the students went beyond saying just the n-word where it was meant to be in the song, and even said the slur repeatedly in parts where it wasn’t even written.
“Not only is the use of the n-word deeply offensive, it also undermines any attempts being made to counteract Durham’s already poor reputation of an institution for elite, white students and where black and minority students feel unwelcome and uncomfortable.
“We are aware of the email response sent out by Hatfield College senior tutor and question further whether any disciplinary action was taken and what specific steps the College is taking to ensure that such behaviour is universally recognised as unacceptable.
“We do not consider this a closed matter and will be contacting the University to look into it further.”
DPOCA encourages any students who have experienced racial incidents to report them to the university and if they want it to be noted for awareness purposes, to record it using their incident report form.
Photograph: Durham University, International Office via Flickr