Editorial -18th September 2012

The Cambridge Student (TCS) would like to respond to recent criticism from The News International regarding our coverage of Graduate Union President Arsalan Ghani and his claims of racial discrimination.

TCS believes that accusations of racism are serious and should be treated with the utmost care. However, we also have a duty to present the facts available and refute allegations, which, left unsubstantiated, have the potential to denigrate the Cambridge student body.

In an article published in the printed version of The News International on Monday, Murtaza Ali Shah criticises us for simultaneously publishing Ghani's belief that he is "subject to racial discrimination" while reporting that we have, as yet, found no evidence of racist behaviour. Rather than denying Ghani, to use Shah's words, "natural justice", this is merely a reflection of our own research at this time. Shah seems to think that to have been in contact with Ghani, GU President, contradicts our affirmation that "to date, we have not been able to find any evidence of racist behaviour". But this is not contradictory at all, it must be stressed that Cambridge's student representatives are innocent until proven guilty.

We have taken Ghani's claim seriously and, so far, have found no evidence of racism within the Cambridge Student or Graduate Unions. We support a full investigation by the university authorities.

Moreover, while TCS has contacted numerous student and university representatives for such information, Shah's article points to no other source than our own reporting, or that of Varsity's. If Shah's sources do, however, extend further than this, he should name them.

Shah's affirmation that ‘The far-right English Defense League (EDL) and racist British National Party (BNP) have a lot of support base in Cambridge" are both offensive and simply wrong. The EDL's only protest to date in Cambridge was outnumbered by a 1,500-people demonstration by Unite Against Fascism; As for the BNP, no candidate from the party has ever participated in the Constituency Parliamentary elections nor City Council elections in Cambridge.

Lastly, TCS takes gross offence at being branded as racist. We in no way played a "vital role in the campaign against African-Caribbean candidate during CUSU elections" where we allegedly "slandered her as "hilariously incompetent". This comment was, in fact, a quote from Matthew Johnson, who bears no affiliation to this paper. Regardless, candidates should be open to criticism without such comments being conflated with their race.

The Cambridge Student has failed to receive a reply from the editor of The News International to discuss its sources, or provide contact details for the article's author Murtaza Ali Shah. The University is yet to release any statement on Ghani's complaint.

Laurence Tidy & Nicholas Tufnell - Editors-in-Chief, Ben Richardson - News Editor.

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