Malcolm Gillies, vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University, is facing calls to apologise after saying alcohol should be banned at the Holloway campus
Published: 27 April, 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
THE vice-chancellor of London Metropolitan University has come under fire for saying that alcohol should be banned on campus because it offended Muslim students.
Students – including Muslims – at the university, based in Holloway, claimed it was his comments that were offensive, divisive and irresponsible.
Malcolm Gillies made his remarks earlier this month at a conference of the Association of University Administrators.
President of London Metropolitan University’s Student Union, Claire Locke, described the comments as “ill-informed”.
They would do more harm than good at a university that 30,000 students from 150 countries attend, she said.
Calling on the vice-chancellor to apologise, she added: “His comments triggered so many racists to verbally attack Muslims, and Muslims themselves hadn’t actually done anything wrong.
“He knows we already live in a climate of Islamophobia. It has made Muslims a target, when actually there is not a single Muslim student who has ever called for the university to ban alcohol.
“Since he made those comments the Student Union and Muslim students have had racist comments made through Facebook.”
An open letter sent to Mr Gillies on Tuesday from the university’s Islamic Society and Shia Muslim Society said: “We find your argument to ban alcohol on religious grounds baseless, divisive and irresponsible and we are concerned about the welfare of the students. Your stance has already had negative impacts both within the university and in the wider society.”
Mr Gillies did not respond to attempts by the Tribune to contact him, but in an email to students this week he said: “I want to reassure all students that my concern, as your vice-chancellor, is to create a supportive environment for all students. If we admit you as a student you need to feel you are welcome and safe in our university, that your views and beliefs are respected and that you can concentrate on your studies.
“That’s what our new Student Charter is all about: respect. No insult was conveyed or intended to any group.”