University and SU announce support for blind Union member

Pressure continues to mount on the Oxford Union as the University of Oxford announced their support for suspended member Ebenezer Azamati on Twitter.

A tweet posted at 1.48pm today read: “We share the widespread outrage regarding the unacceptable treatment of Ebenezer Azamati, a member of our University community, at the Oxford Union. Ebenezer’s college and the University are working fully to support him.”

In an additional tweet, the University sought to clarify that they were not involved in the Azamati incident, stating: “The Union is an entirely independent club not governed by the University, but this student’s treatment goes against out culture of inclusivity and tolerance – we are pressing the Union for answers on how they plan to remedy the issue and ensure this does not happen in future.”

Meanwhile, Oxford SU have similarly announced their support for Azamati. A statement published today read: “We, the Sabbatical Officers of Oxford SU, condemn the actions of The Oxford Union regarding the treatment of one of our members, Ebenezer Azamati, and stand in solidarity with Mr Azamati, Oxford Africa Society and Oxford ACS.”

Azamati was the victim of an incident in which Union staff physically dragged him from first week’s No Confidence debate, and subsequently faced a disciplinary complaint from Union president Brendan McGrath for alleged “violent conduct”.

An “Intermediate Disciplinary Committee” (IDC) of the Union considered the case and found Azamati guilty, suspending his Union membership. With the help of Mansfield principal Helen Mountfield QC, Azamati appealed the case to a more senior body, a “Senior Disciplinary Committee” (SDC), which sat on Saturday.

However, hearings were inconclusive. McGrath withdrew his original complaint, while Mountfield withdrew one she had brought against the chair of the IDC, Harry Samuels. A complaint against McGrath alleging dereliction of duty was not ruled on, with the SDC panel adjourning the case until January 6th, potentially leaving McGrath in office for the entire remainder of his term as president.

Oxford University Africa Society, who have been leading a campaign in support of Azamati, are continuing to call for McGrath’s resignation, with their demands supported by Oxford SU as well as the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC).

In a tweet, OULC said: “OULC strongly condemns the appalling treatment of Ebenezer Azamati by the Oxford Union. The Union, though claiming to be a bastion of freedom open to all, has shown itself to be nothing of the sort.”

The University of Oxford’s statement did not comment on calls for resignation or on McGrath’s personal conduct.

Image credit: Barker Evans