Durham University has responded to a series of screenshots reported on by Palatinate that led to the decision by Durham Students’ Union to ban the Durham University Conservative Association (DUCA) and the Durham University Free Market Association (DUFMA) from operating as Durham SU societies.
The University revealed that it has started a non-academic misconduct investigation into the individuals involved in the screenshots, and that the individuals involved would have “no place” at the University if they were found to be Durham students.
Palatinate understands that the Durham students involved in the screenshots who have not graduated are being investigated by their colleges.
In a series of tweets published on the official Durham University Twitter page, the University called the comments in the screenshots “abhorrent and totally unacceptable.”
“We are already working closely with our Students’ Union who reported them a few weeks ago. The Students’ Union have de-registered the societies involved and we have started a non-academic misconduct investigation.
“Let us be absolutely clear: if we find these posts to be genuine and attributable to Durham students, there will be no place for these individuals in our University.
“We encourage staff and students to report all forms of bullying, harassment and other unwanted behaviour and access support through our online Report and Support tool.”
The University also stated that those affected by the posts should contact their College Student Support teams or the University’s Counselling Service.
Screenshots seen by Palatinate, some of which are alleged to involve leading members of DUCA and DUFMA, show individuals making racist and misogynistic comments in group chats. The comments discuss the Holocaust, rape, racial slurs and white supremacism.
Some of the screenshots show individuals perpetuating antisemitic conspiracy theories, and recommending the use of concentration camps, as well as showing individuals using derogatory language about pregnant women and abortion.
Palatinate chose not to publish the screenshots, but they have since been leaked on social media. They were first posted on the Facebook groups Durham Uni students – buy, sell and swap items and Overheard at Durham Uni, although they have since been deleted.
Durham SU Chief Executive, Gareth Hughes, called the screenshots “repulsive” in a statement published on the Students’ Union’s website.
The decision by Durham SU to ban the two societies means that DUCA and DUFMA will be barred from using the Durham University name in their title, and will stop receiving funding from Durham SU.
They will also no longer have access to authorisation of events, access to physical spaces, email addresses, member data and banking, and will not be able to access facilities or freshers’ events.