Student anger builds over Uni of Manchester racial incident

Last week first-year student Zac Adan was reportedly harassed by The University of Manchester (UoM) campus security outside his accommodation. Footage has emerged of Adan being pinned up against the wall and accused of being a drug dealer. The incident took place in the midst of rent strikes against the university and the occupation of […]

Muslim Taseer
25th November 2020

Last week first-year student Zac Adan was reportedly harassed by The University of Manchester (UoM) campus security outside his accommodation.

Footage has emerged of Adan being pinned up against the wall and accused of being a drug dealer.

The incident took place in the midst of rent strikes against the university and the occupation of Owens Tower by students. Tension between the student body and the institution has escalated as a result. The incident has gone viral and garnered support from high-profile figures and institutions such as the UCU.

A video posted on Twitter by user @izzy_b32, a witness to the incident, shows 2 security guards slamming and pinning Zac against the wall while demanding his identification. In the video, a visibly shaken Adan requests that other students gathered around start filming. He is eventually allowed to retrieve his identification, thereby proving his status as a student and resident, and released.

After the incident the security guard continues to tap Zac Adan's shoulder and shake his finger in his face whilst shouting at him at close range. He is not wearing a mask.

In an interview with the BBC, Zac stated that he was traumatized by the situation, and expressed disappointment in the University. It's disgusting, I haven't been able to sleep. I am traumatised by the situation," he said. "My parents came from Somalia as refugees and have given up everything for me to be at this institution. I am the first person in my family to go to university, so for me, it's an achievement - but when they hear about things like this happening, my parents are begging me to go back home."

Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell appeared on NewsNight and said she had written to Zac Adan, but the next day released a video apology saying that she had ‘made a mistake with good intentions’, and had in fact not written to Zac Adan. In our interview, UoMrentstrike called the video a 'shambles', and stated that even if she had reached out to Zac via email "it would still have been a response lacking empathy and cooperation, and leave students feeling completely abandoned under layers of bureaucracy."

The Uni had previously stated that they were aware of the incident, were 'disturbed by it', and had suspended the security guards in question. The University says it is investigating the incident but as of 20th November, they have not reached out to the main witness to the incident, Twitter user @izzy_b32, who filmed and uploaded video of the incident.

On the 16th of November, hundreds of UoM students marched peacefully at the Fallowfield campus in solidarity with Zac.

Other twitter videos posted by Izzy, the student that captured the incident, showed security discussing the incident, saying that Zac "matched a description." The security guard also says "he doesn't know of any white drug dealers" when asked why they didn't stop any white students.

This news comes at a time when the VC and the UoM administration are already under scrutiny, due to the ongoing occupation of a residential building belonging to the university by the student rent strike movement. Speaking to the Courier, UoMrentstrike said that "this is not an isolated incident- it is a systemic problem which we once again think has built over time as a result of poor management, and senior staff being out of touch."

UoMrentstrike's demands currently do not include addressing systemic racism at the Uni, but mainly because they are currently waiting on the compilation of a report on student experiences with racism. They noted that they would model demands based on what students affected by the issue want.

When asked about the student mood at Manchester, UoM stated that "one thing this has brought about is a sense of solidarity- many white students were unaware of the extent of everyday harassment and racism that non-white students were facing. At the protest, Zac mentioned he was surprised by the turnout and felt a much greater sense of community as well. One thing he also pushed was that his concern wasn’t even for the incident in question, but the pattern of racist incidents combined with the lack of helpful security on campus"

Feature Image: BBC News

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AUTHOR: Muslim Taseer
Comment Sub-Editor and Co-Founder of The Toon Lampoon. Regular Contributor to multiple sections. Shameless Plug; I also make music under the moniker "sickhoop"

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