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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

St Antony’s student reverses decision to drop out in support of Gilbert Mitullah’s campaign

As Mitullah approaches his crowdfunding goal of £25,000, Layo London said "it is likely that I will stay on at Oxford"

A St Antony’s College student who decided to drop out of Oxford in order to help finance the education of Kenyan masters student Gilbert Mitullah has now reversed their decision.

Layo London threatened to commit “academic suicide” on Thursday, pledging to donate the money that would have been spent on her Trinity term Art History MA fees to Mitullah’s campaign. But now Mitullah is £4,000 away from his fundraising target, London has said “it is likely that I will stay on at Oxford.”

In a video posted on YouTube, she said she felt she has the freedom to reapply to university and wanted to “test the limits of my privilege” by leaving to support Mitullah. She urged people “not to blame Gilbert. He is a lovely individual, I am committed to fighting this because it’s so much bigger than him”.

Commenting on London’s decision, Mitullah told Cherwell: “I have mixed feelings about it. It’s ironic that she is the only African student in her masters course, leaving so that the first and only Kenyan in his course would stay, there are no winners here. Actually, the University and both of us lose. So I am not happy about it, I have urged her to stay and complete her studies because there is a greater benefit for us, but I cannot compel her to make any decisions. I am still wrapping my head around it all, but I know it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.”

After Visa complications, Mitullah’s funding was withdrawn. Since the start of a campaign to crowdfund the £25,000 required to continue his masters degree, Mitullah has attracted the support of a variety of groups including Rhodes Must Fall and the Oxford University Africa Society, and the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Kenya.

Support comes in part because of his work as a legal aid lawyer and education innovator, becoming a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community.

To date Mitullah has managed to pay £13,800 of the £25,000 needed to stay. He will be meeting with the warden of St Anthony’s College in order to request an extension.

But in regards to his College, Mitullah told Cherwell: “My department has been very supportive and helpful, especially my supervisor. But my College has offered little support if any, I felt attacked and harassed by the people supposed to be safeguarding my welfare.

“We need more BME Junior Deans, people with the power to assist BME students and greater access and funding for students from Sub Saharan Africa. An officer should be assigned to colleges to help students in financial distress to fundraise. What Layo had done in a week could have been done easier and earlier with College support.”

Layo London and Oxford University have been contacted for comment.

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