Nearly 100 Cambridge academics sign statement in support of Lola Olufemi

Beatrice McCartney 28 October 2017

So far, 93 academics, from a range of positions and departments, have signed a statement expressing solidarity with Lola Olufemi and condemning how she has recently been represented by the national press. The statement explains that a ‘large and diverse’ group of both students and faculty members have been discussing over the past year how the English course can be made more inclusive and representative. As a result, the Telegraph’s presentation of the issue has been criticised as ‘deliberately misleading and racially inflammatory’.

The statement concluded by highlighting how ‘the errors, misrepresentations and tone of the articles in the Telegraph, Daily Mail and elsewhere can only set back the cause of equality and inclusion.’

Signatories of the statement included Sarah Franklin, Professor of Sociology; Peter Mandler, Professor of Modern Cultural History; and Harri Englund, Professor of Social Anthropology.

The article in the Telegraph came as a response to student calls for the English faculty to decolonise its tripos, with Lola Olufemi composing an open letter to express these views. The letter, which was signed by over 100 students stated that ‘we can no longer ignore…the fact that the curriculum, taken as a whole, risks perpetuating institutional racism’.

Olufemi was pictured on the front page of the Telegraph under the headline ‘Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors’, accompanied by a highly critical article about the ‘change in policy’.

Dr Nicholas Guyatt, a reader in American History at Trinity Hall, was an author of the statement and has since tweeted to express outrage against the ‘mangling of important issues’ by the national press.