Oxford University is embroiled in a new racism row after one of its colleges put out a security warning about a black ‘intruder’ who was in fact a visiting former student.
A CCTV photograph of Oluwafemi Nylander, 22, was emailed to students and staff at Harris Manchester College, Oxford with an alert suggesting he was a security risk.
They were told to be ‘vigilant’ about the ‘unauthorised person’ in the picture and advised that his ‘intentions’ were unclear.
Although the college denied race had anything to do with the alert, Nylander, who graduated last year with a Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree, accused the university of being racist.
He told the Daily Mail: “Had this been another student of a different colour there would definitely have been a different reaction.Oxford as an institution is shambolic. There are more Etonians at undergraduate level than black students. You are more likely to walk through a college in a suit and tie than with an afro. Your presence is an anomaly.”
A spokesman for Harris Manchester said an academic raised the alarm when a man he did not know walked into his bedroom at 11.30pm last Thursday. The man apparently apologized and said he had walked into the wrong room by mistake.
But after the academic saw the same man again outside the building the next morning, the email was circulated.
It read: ‘This is a serious reminder that this wonderful and safe environment in which we live and work can be taken advantage of. We must all do our bit to maintain vigilance against unauthorised persons in the college.’
It has since come to light that Nylander, who attended Regent’s Park College, Oxford, said he entered the college to collect a key from a friend’s office and was locked in overnight.
Nylander was an activist in Oxford’s ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaign, which called on the university to remove a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes. And last year he dressed in chains outside All Souls College in protest against its historical links to the slave trade.
Annette Duffell, the college bursar, said: “As far as the college was concerned, we had an intruder on our premises and so we issued a picture. It was purely a security issue. Anything else is conjecture. We were responding as we would to any overnight security issue.”