Exeter University’s law society has cancelled its annual general meeting, society ball and all further activities after WhatsApp messages from its members were exposed which displayed racism, sexism and claims of sexual assault.
The messages were revealed by Arsalan Motavali on Facebook during the evening of 19 March. In the post, Mr Motavali explained of one of the reasons behind his decision to post being the recent incident at Nottingham Trent University, in which a group of students were captured on film, chanting racist remarks.
In his Facebook statement, Arsalan said: “All the screenshots (see below) need no explanation. Repeated racial slurs, a call for a race war and racially insulting peers would be enough to get individuals severely disciplined, fired and shunned in any other workplace – the Guild, University and BLS should act no differently.”
A selection of the messages exchanged in the WhatsApp group. The original post can be found here.
Another member of the Bracton Law Society (BLS), Ciara Walsh, told Truthfal: “I’ve never really enjoyed being a member of the Law Society as from day one I found it perpetuated the pretentious side of the law, firms and lawyers alike are trying so hard to get away from in 2018.”
Ms Walsh, originally from Bristol, is currently in her second year of LLB law at Exeter University and claims to have experienced forms of sexual harassment from students on the law course, including groping.
“It just sickens me to my core to think that some of the boys writing such racist, sexist and homophobic comments have been given these amazing opportunities over and above myself and all the other fantastic candidates that have suffered rejection.”
According to Ciara, the messages were on a BLS sports team group chat and primarily involved five male students from all three-year groups.
A spokesman for the University of Exeter said: “The University of Exeter does not tolerate any form of racist, sexist or bigoted behaviour and is committed to eradicating any instances of discrimination and harassment that may arise. Following reports of allegations involving a small group of students, the University has launched a major investigation, in conjunction with the Students’ Guild, and suspended the students while this takes place. The police have also been informed. While it would be inappropriate to comment further while investigations take place, full disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate.”
What is the Bracton Law Society?
- The Bracton Law Society was founded in 1965 and named after Henry de Bracton, who is famous for his writings on law. It also receives sponsors from several top law firms such as, Simmons & Simmons, Hill Dickinson LLP and DLA Piper.
- BLS is the largest student society on the Exeter campus with over 1000 members, according to the student’s guild. Both law students and non-law students can join the society- an interest in pursuing a career in law is the only criteria.
- This year the society was nominated for the ‘Best Overall Law Society’ award by LawCareers.Net and works with over 35 leading law and professional services firms.
- The main aim is to encourage students to get involved with law activities outside of the curriculum. Careers events, practical experience, skills sessions and networking dinners are all perks of being part of this prestigious society.