Some ethnic minority members of Exeter Cheerleading and Gymnastics were left alienated by an email sent out by the President which exhibits a clear racial preference for a ‘Caucasian female’ to model for a photoshoot.
AcuPrime, an acupuncture and physio company based in Exeter had contacted University of Exeter Exeter Cheerleading and Gymnastics requesting models for a photoshoot to advertise their products.
The email from AcuPrime seems to imply that they had a clear racial preference as models of colour would be too time consuming to work with, stating:
‘While it would be ideal to use models from various genders, ethnicity and age groups, given our tight time window, I would like to propose an athletic, Caucasian female between 18-40’.
The President of the club forwarded the message directly to all members of the AU Club. Members have received an email from the club informing them the modelling opportunity is no longer available after Exeposé raised the issue with both the club and the AU. The e-mail does not include an apology for any offence caused.
Cynthia Definone, a black student who was an active member of the club, told Exeposé,
‘While I feel a company looking for a model of a specific race is industry standard (wrong but standard), I feel like a society which focuses so hard on inclusivity shouldn’t have blindly forwarded such a message.
‘The wording was incredibly racist, putting down other minorities because we are apparently time consuming.’
Cynthia decided to quit after receiving the email from the president.
Josh Callander, President of the AU, told Exeposé,
The insensitivities displayed in this email are of course not condoned by the Cheerleading and Gymnastics Club, the Athletic Union or the University. As an AU we do not tolerate inflammatory or discriminatory behaviour and the request of this modelling agency is clearly exclusive, bigoted and racist. The Cheerleading and Gymnastics Club meant no harm from the dissemination of this email – it was a simple case of the Club Captain forwarding on a request from a company to the membership database without properly reading the full email – and for this they apologise.
Specifically, the Cheerleading and Gymnastics Club would like to apologise to their members who have been offended by this and to any student who has been offended by the dissemination of this material.
No member of the Club will be taking part in this photoshoot and if other AU clubs have been emailed this advert we will of course enforce a similar boycott.
Alec James, VP Welfare & Diversity, also commented:
Myself and the sabbatical team would like to echo the AU’s response and will help however we can in looking into the matter. Racist profiling activity like this has no place on our campus and we hope the company responsible apologise unreservedly for their email.
AcuPrime were initially offered comment and elected not to comment; they have complained about the original article and asked for a review. The review has been completed by the Student’s Guild and the article was found to be accurate and fair.
Two changes have been made.
The sentence regarding AcuPrime not commenting has been removed and a statement received from AcuPrime is reproduced in full below. The statement is the opinion of AcuPrime and is not a reflection of the views of Exeposé /University of Exeter Student’s Guild.
“Members of AcuPrime are disappointed and outraged by the article published by Georgia Roberts in the Exeposé on Mar 22, 2017 entitled “Modelling opportunity for Cheerleading prefers ‘athletic Caucasian female’”. She materialized an unfortunate incidence of a private email being forwarded to a group by a student’s mistake, and took a sentence out of the context of the email to publish a falsely accusing opinion. The company considers the article unjustifiably defamatory based on misconstruing and false accusation.”