Piers Telemacque, NUS Societies and Citizenship Vice-President, has apologised after characterising all Oxford residents as “rich middle class people”.
On 13th August, while at the NUS’ ‘Lead and Change’ seminar, Telemacque tweeted: “I’m so worried about the social issues the rich middle class people in Oxford will be talking about. I’m preparing to be heartbroken #LC14”
Telemacque’s tweet was criticised by OUSU officers, who highlighted the social problems of Oxford.
OUSU President Louis Trup tweeted: “Disgusted by the VP Soc&Cit [Telemacque] belittling the experiences of the poorest people in society because of where they live. #LC14 dick”.
Trup added: “12 areas of Oxford are in the bottom quintile on the national index of Multiple Deprivation- don’t be so judgemental. Assumptions and judgements such as yours alienate many people from the student movement”
Ex-President Rutland weighed in, saying: “cheap shots like this are beneath NUS sabs”
Helena Dollimore, a History and Politics student at St Hilda’s, replied to Telemacque on Twitter to say he was reinforcing a false view of Oxford and hindering outreach and access efforts.
When approached for comment, Dollimore said she was satisfied with Telemacque’s apology and was hopeful for useful collaboration between the NUS and OUSU in the future, emphasising “his comment does not reflect the attitudes of the NUS officers more generally”.
The exchanges on Twitter were made at the ‘Lead and Change’ course in Oxford, described by the NUS as its “flagship course” which “challenges delegates to lead change and positive action”. OUSU VP for Access and Admission James Blythe was also in attendance and tweeted he was “saddened” by Telemacque’s “prejudiced view”.
Telemacque was unavailable for comment but apologised for and deleted his tweet.
An NUS spokesperson distanced the NUS from the content of the tweet, highlighting that “the tweet was deleted and an apology was issued from the officer”. The spokesperson continued: “It is important to create inclusive, supportive environments within all institutions to make sure that those from diverse backgrounds can flourish.”
This follows previous tensions between OUSU and the NUS, including the recent in-out referendum and a formal complaint by OUSU officers of a lack of transparency at the NUS National Executive Committee where the NUS voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) policy towards Israel.