Matt Alderton, centreRosie Bradbury

Content note: This article has been edited to include, in quotations, the homophobic slur written in Alderton’s Facebook post. This article therefore now contains a homophobic slur.

Last night, a candidate running to be president of Cambridge’s student union, Matt Alderton, apologised for his use of a homophobic slur in a JCR Facebook post, after being pressed several times to answer questions on it at the SU election hustings.

“I did use a homophobic slur on the JCR page”, Alderton said, adding: “I was unaware that the phrase I used had homophobic connotations …. And I do apologise for that fact”.

Read Varsity’s full live coverage of the night’s hustings here.

In November 2019, Alderton, who was then Vice-President of Magdalene JCR, posted a list announcing new committee members to his college’s JCR page. He wrote his friend’s name at the bottom of the list, with a homophobic slur, “batty boy”, next to it.

Initially, when asked about the post by a member of the audience, Alderton said the question was part of a campaign by CUSU to affect his standing for President. Alderton said, “I see the CUSU smear campaign is operating as effectively as I thought it would be”.

“What your question is, is a way to further a smear campaign”, Alderton said. He added: “I will not stand here and face quite baseless allegations against a subject matter which does not necessarily affect the actual running of this election”.

When pressed by a Varsity reporter, who is a co-author of this article, to respond, who said they had a screenshot showing the use of the slur, Alderton said he was aware of the screenshot but that he did not want to “waste the time” of the other candidates on the panel by answering the question. He said that it was not appropriate to respond to the question with a crowd present, and added: “hustings is not the time and the place to discuss it”.


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Live: Cambridge SU Elections Hustings

Another Varsity reporter and co-author of this article responded to Alderton that the election hustings were the main forum of debate in advance of voting, and that it was being live-streamed for the benefit of students.

Alderton then said it would be difficult to explain the situation without saying the slur itself and after content noting, invited people who might find it uncomfortable to leave the room. However, when other panelists shook their heads at Alderton’s choice to say the slur, he decided against it.

In an attempt to explain why he used the term, Alderton said that he had not known that the phrase had homophobic implications, and that he used it “in complete ignorance of what it had meant”. He said that as soon as his friend “told [me] what it actually meant, I retracted it immediately”, and that he then deleted the post.

“I’m not proud. I don't go around and boast about it, and it’s something that I hold in deep shame. But at the same time, I would like you to think if I had believed the ramifications of it, I wouldn’t have posted it in the first place.

Alderton finished by saying, “I'm deeply upset by it, and I’d like to finish on that”.

Updated 29th February, 12:37pm: This article was edited to include the homophobic slur which Alderton wrote in a Facebook post in November 2019. Varsity decided to include the slur, to avoid any assumptions on what exact slur had been written, and to provide this information to readers. 

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