Emmanuel College has cut ties with “race-realist” fellow Nathan Cofnas, whose blog posts sparked outrage last term.

Cofnas received a letter on the 5th of April notifying him of Emmanuel College’s decision to terminate his research affiliation with the College.

Emmanuel’s master, Doug Chalmers, initially told students that he “acknowledged” Cofnas' right to freedom of speech, but has since hosted a town hall to discuss the matter alongside Homerton Principal Lord Simon Woolley.

The letter sent by Emmanuel College reads: “The Committee first considered the meaning of the blog and concluded that it amounted to, or could reasonably be construed as amounting to, a rejection of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI and EDI) policies.”

“The Committee concluded that the core mission of the College was to achieve educational excellence and that diversity and inclusion were inseparable from that. The ideas promoted by the blog therefore represented a challenge to the College’s core values and mission,” according to the letter.

In controversial blog posts, Cofnas argued in favour of a “hereditarian revolution” and said the number of black professors at Harvard would “approach zero” in a meritocracy.

Cofnas claimed: “Blacks would disappear from almost all high-profile positions outside of sports and entertainment.”

Following Emma’s decision to cut ties with the philosophy fellow, Australian philosopher and animal rights activist Peter Singer has lent his support to Cofnas.

The Princeton University Professor, who has published successful books, such as The Life You Can Save and Animal Liberation, expressed concerns about the implications of the College’s decision for freedom of speech in an op-ed in Project Syndicate.

Singer wrote: “These sentences imply that at Emmanuel College, freedom of expression does not include the freedom to challenge its DEI policies, and that challenging them may be grounds for dismissal.”

“That is an extraordinary statement for a tertiary institution to make,” Singer said.

In response to the blog posts, on the 16th of February, Emma master Doug Chalmers wrote to students, saying: “We retain our commitment to freedom of thought and expression”. Chalmers acknowledged Cofnas’ “academic right, as enshrined by law, to write about his views.” Singer has accused the College of renouncing these principles.

The University and the Leverhulme Trust are conducting ongoing investigations into the “race-realist” fellow.

Singer wrote: “Were the University of Cambridge to dismiss Cofnas, it would sound a warning to students and academics everywhere: when it comes to controversial topics, even the world’s most renowned universities can no longer be relied upon to stand by their commitment to defend freedom of thought and discussion.”

A protest was organised last term and a petition was circulated among students calling for the University to sack Cofnas. The petition has amassed more than 1200 signatures.

At the town hall hosted to discuss Cofnas, Lord Woolley, the first black man to head a Cambridge College, said: “We should protect free speech but not at the expense of abhorrent racism.”


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Woolley suggested that the University should sack Cofnas, telling the room: “If this is not gross misconduct […] I don’t know what is.”

Pro-vice-chancellor for education Professor Bhaskar Vira said at a meeting last term he believes Cofnas has “crossed a line” when it comes to the concerns for freedom of speech.

After facing mounting backlash, Cofnas stepped down from his teaching and examining responsibilities but the “race-realist” is still employed by the philosophy faculty as a researcher.

Philosophy faculty chair, Professor Angela Breitenbach, told Varsity: “The University is fully committed to academic freedom and freedom of speech within the law. We are considering the concerns that have been raised in relation to Dr Cofnas’s blog under our existing processes. These processes are by their nature confidential so we will not be commenting further.”

Nathan Cofnas and Emmanuel College were contacted for comment.


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