Sir Mark Welland deemed the incident “entirely unacceptable in the context of a student attending a supervision.”Wikimedia Commons

St Catharine’s College has released a public statement of apology today, following a Master’s student being grabbed by a porter at the college when trying to attend a scheduled appointment on Monday morning.

Collin Edouard, who is studying for a Master’s degree in Music at Wolfson, told Varsity he was entering St Catharine’s when he was accosted by one of the porters, who asked him who he was and what he was doing here, and after responding that he was there for an appointment, the porter grabbed his arm, preventing him from moving forward.

When Edouard told the porter he had “no right” to put his hand on him, the porter said he had had problems with protestors in the past. Edouard had to prove his identity with his University ID.

His identity was affirmed when someone he knew passed by and confirmed this to the porter, who then, “in a softer tone”, told Edouard he could pass.

Edouard said he has informed his own college, Wolfson, about the incident and that “the people involved have been very supportive”. They contacted St Catharine’s, who, according to Edouard, has taken “this matter very seriously and have taken the time to fully investigate the situation”. Edouard wanted to stress that he is “happy” about St Catherine’s response and the fact they are taking steps to move “swiftly forward to solutions”.

Sir Mark Welland, Master of St Catharine’s wrote in the statement, “the College wishes to make a sincere and public apology to Mr Collin Edouard, a student at Wolfson College,” and deemed the incident “entirely unacceptable in the context of a student attending a supervision.”

“Our processes did not ensure that Mr Edouard was treated with the highest level of respect and courtesy that we aspire to. We are aware that, despite our best intentions, he felt singled out based on race and we are truly sorry for the distress this has caused him.

“As a College we are committed to recognising and preventing discriminatory behaviour, conscious or unconscious. I, along with the Senior Tutor and other colleagues at St Catharine’s, will also be openly sharing any learnings with the rest of the collegiate university.”


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Edouard told Varsity that he experiences racism at the University “all the time” and said “it can be exhausting to always have to remind people to be mindful of how they may make people feel with the thing they do or say.”

“It is important to remember that this isn’t just about my interaction with a couple of porters at one college in this institution. There is a larger systemic issue that we have to feel comfortable talking about.”

After posting about his experience in a Facebook post, which received over 300 reacts and 48 shares, Edouard set up the hashtag ‘#speakout’ and is encouraging people of colour who have experienced any form of racism at Cambridge to post the hashtag on their timeline to make others aware of everyday racism.

“We have to be willing to listen to the stories of those who have been suffering in silence at the university for too long. I encourage people of color to speak and stand in your truth and never be afraid to #speakout”, he told Varsity.

In 2018, the University’s Department of Sociology set up the End Everyday Racism initiative, which allows members of the University to anonymously report racist incidents at Cambridge.

The platform hopes to create and monitor a data set which can be used to demonstrate how racism is experienced at Cambridge, aiming to provide both numerical and qualitative data on experiences at the University.

An investigation by The Guardian last year found that, with 72 recorded complaints between October 2014 and April 2019, Cambridge received the highest number of formal complaints relating to racism of 131 UK universities.

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