Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Independent since 1920

Academics criticise the loss of political diversity at Oxford University

The Head of the Equality and Diversity Unit (EDU) at Oxford University has been criticised by academics for his support of Belgian police’s attempts to close down a conservative conference. Scott’s social media post celebrating the attempted shutting down of the National Conservatism Conference has provoked comments from Oxford professors and tutors and the University itself.

On a since deleted post on X Vernal Scott said: “I applaud the mayor and police of Brussels for their decision to close down this conference.” Scott has been Head of the EDU since October 2023 having previously led Diversity and Inclusion at Essex Police. 

The National Conservative Conference, which was attended by Nigel Farage and Suella Braveman, was shut down by local authorities “to guarantee public safety.” The local mayor, Emir Kir, feared the conference could “be homophobic, offend minorities or incite public disorder.” This was later reversed by the court and declared by the Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, to be “unconstitutional”. 

Academics and tutors at the University of Oxford expressed their upset at Vernal Scott’s support of the attempted shutting down. Professor Lawrence Goldman, a history lecturer at St Peter’s College, said: “Vernal Scott’s comment sums up the problem in our universities.” He noted that universities have allowed “intellectual and political diversity to wither away.”

Sir Noel Malcolm, a research fellow at All Souls College, said: “It’s very troubling to think that someone appointed to promote ‘diversity’ has such a narrow concept of what diversity is.” He also expressed concern that “students will never learn the basic habits of respectful argument…if they are encouraged to think that the best way to deal with such people is just to silence them.” 

The University of Oxford also released a statement that Scott’s comments “do not represent the views of the university.” 

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles