W hen I first heard about the scandal surrounding the Snowsports white t-shirt social (namely the anti-Semitic and racist slogans on people’s shirts), I was shocked and frankly a little upset. As a British Indian student in a predominantly white university and city, I am aware that I am different to all of my friends and many of my peers.
I cannot deny that moving to Exeter has been a slight culture shock
I can’t say that not being from the same heritage or background as my peers has been something which bothered me before, or even something I had spent much time thinking about in the past. However, after hearing about the events of the Snowsports social, I must admit that there have been moments when I have questioned whether I made the right decision in coming to Exeter rather than a more multicultural university, like one of the many in London. Coming from Birmingham, a city that is truly a melting-pot of different people, cultures and backgrounds, I cannot deny that moving to Exeter has been a slight culture shock; there are fewer people here who identify with the same culture as me, which wasn’t something that bothered me until the white t-shirt scandal. After this, I began to wonder whether the opinions expressed on the t-shirts a r e shared by the majority of my peers, and whether people like myself, people who are different, are truly not welcome at this university.
After giving it some more thought, I realised that the white t-shirt scandal was less a reflection of intolerance among the student body as a whole, and more the result of a few drunken, ignorant individuals. In fact, it is very possible that the few people who had racist slogans written on their shirts were completely unaware of them until they were pointed out, as during the hustle and bustle of a social, it would be incredibly difficult to keep track of who is writing what on your shirt. Of course, this does not excuse the events of the night, but it certainly puts them into perspective.
It is a huge shame that people as ignorant as those who wrote the racist, downright idiotic slogans hold the opinions that they do, but as far as I am concerned, the best thing we can do is take this as a learning experience for how to deal with racism and try to not let it get to us. From past experiences, I have found that trying to change the minds of individuals who hold such extreme opinions is an entirely futile exercise, as they are often too irrational or set in their ways to see how wrong they truly are. On the plus side, this experience has certainly helped me feel better equipped to deal with the ignorance of those with racist opinions. It would be incredibly naïve to think that this is something I, and other people of colour, won’t come across and have to learn to handle for the entirety of our lives. This scandal hasn’t caused me to feel particularly unsafe here, because, as cheesy as it sounds, at the end of the day, the words of backward people can only harm us if we allow them to.