Calls are rising for Cambridge student Ronald Coyne to be expelled from University, for burning a £20 note in front of a homeless man.
On Sunday 12th of February The Evening Standard reported that a ‘change.org’ petition to expell Ronald Coyne out of Cambridge University had reached more than 19,000 signatures. On Tuesday 14th the number of signatures had climbed to over 22,700. The online petition is entitled ‘Remove Ronald Coyne from Cambridge University, with a recent post on their webpage claiming that their main goal is to support the homeless.
This campaign comes as a response to events in Cambridge, in the early hours of the morning of February 2nd. A student, reportedly Ronald Coyne of Pembroke College, was filmed burning a £20 note in front of a homeless man. Footage of the incident, shared on Snapchat, shows the student dressed in formal wear setting the note alight.
The BBC reports that Cambridgshire Police did not receive any reports or complaints, and they clarified that it is not a crime to burn a banknote.
On Friday the 10th Ryan Davies, a 31 year old unemployed crane operator, told the Cambridge News that he was the man Coyne taunted. Davies told the News that the eighteen-year-old held out the note in front of him before burning it, saying,
“I’ll give you some change, I’ve changed it into flames.” He described the incident as “absolutely disgusting”, “horrible”, and “just plain nasty.”
Coyne, a Law undergraduate, was also a member of Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA), but was immediately excluded from this organisation after the video went to the social media platform. A statement posted on CUCA’s website said that “the committee was made aware of the private behaviour of an individual member which we considered to be abhorrent and repugnant”, and that the actions of the individual did not represent the rest of the group.
According to The Evening Standard, a CUCA spokesperson also said,
“There is no room for people who behave like that in our association, any other university association, or frankly our university.”
BBC News reported that following the incident, Pembroke College have restricted comments on their Facebook page “to allow a period of calm reflection about an incident by a student which has caused distress and outrage to many people.”
The college writes,
“We expect our students to treat others with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times, and take allegations of unacceptable behaviour very seriously.”