The Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal announced today that she will refuse to supervise any students at Kings’ College, due to what she described as “consistently racist profiling and aggression by Porters”.
In a series of tweets this afternoon she cited examples of racism at the college and claimed that her attempts to raise this with the fellows and management of Kings’ have “failed to elicit any changes”.
Dr Gopal, an English professor specialising in colonial and postcolonial literature, tweeted that the decision was made “with deep regret but with 17 years of consideration behind it’ and on behalf of herself and “other people of colour”.
She described one of her experiences at the college: “‘I repeatedly asked them to address me as ‘Dr Gopal’ and repeatedly failed to get them, including the aggressive Head Porter to whom I attempt to complain to address me as anything other than ‘madam.’”
Gopal apologised to students but pointed to similar testimonies from other members of the university from ethnic minorities. She said that a King’s student told her that “the issue of racial profiling and unconscious bias at the King’s gate is something we are aware of”.
The response from King’s College Visitor Service was described by the academic as a “classic nopology” – the head of the department stated “it has not been my experience”, according to Gopal.
The professor, who came to Cambridge in 2001, has been involved in several public controversies in recent months, including an argument with Mary Beard over the Oxfam scandal and a Daily Mail article depicting her as a “hate-filled don”.
She has also been an active user of Twitter as a platform for defending her beliefs, having 18,000 followers. In March, however, she announced she would tweet less as she feared “turning into an anti-troll”.
King’s College have said the following: “We have investigated the incident and found no wrongdoing on the part of our staff.
“Every visitor was asked to show their card during the course of that day, as the College was closed to everyone except King’s members.
“Non-members such as Dr Gopal were asked to take alternatives routes, around the College.”
“This was a matter of procedure, not discrimination.
“King’s College is a rich and diverse community, and take the wellbeing of its students and staff extremely seriously. We remain committed to being an inclusive and welcoming environment in which to work and study.
“We categorically deny that the incident referred to was in any way racist.”