Over the last few days, the King’s Sports Community has been made aware of a potential incident of racism within the GKT Women’s Football Club. The action allegedly came from a committee member toward a Black member of her household.
The incidents are alleged to have occurred last November, when a Black housemate of said committee member was subjected to various microaggressions during a 10-day isolation period as part of the NHS Track and Trace scheme. These included the committee member demanding the quarantining individual not use any of the communal spaces in the house, as well as making a point of not offering alternative assistance.
Things came to a head when upon the end of the 10-day isolation period, the subjected housemate went out for an evening walk. After their return, the committee member allegedly called the police to express concern that she was “in danger” as a result of her housemate’s walk. The committee member apparently showed no objections beforehand and did not attempt to speak with the flatmate in question.
The committee member was told by a different housemate that the call was unnecessary and concerning in nature, as she was essentially calling the police on an innocent Black individual. The police, after arriving, concluded no illegal activity had taken place, further compounded by the fact that the committee member herself had allegedly been a regular flounder of Covid-19 regulations. After this, the committee member’s subsequent attempts to inform her housemate that she had called the police were met with silence, as the “audibly upset” housemate did not respond.
The GKTWFC committee were supposedly made aware of these allegations by the victim, yet failed to take action. They allegedly responded by slandering the victim and refusing the act decisively. In a recent update, the Instagram account which brought forward these allegations (@gkt_antihate) has stated that they were blocked by the GKTWFC account.
It is crucial at this stage to note that these are unconfirmed accusations, but equally crucial to say that if the alleged racial incidents are true, then the GKTWFC have acted in a deplorable manner, and must be punished accordingly.
In a statement on the group’s official Instagram account, the GKTWFC committee stated: “We took [these allegations] extremely seriously and acted immediately to contact the accused to ascertain her version of events. The committee member stated that any incident that occurred was not racially motivated.” The group expressed frustration with the KCLSU’s “severely delayed” response, claiming they were unable to comment as the result of SU guidance. The statement continued: “We met virtually with KCLSU today and have stated that their handling of the complaint, investigation, and procedure has not been good enough. We are calling on the KCLSU to take action to change this and will continue to put pressure on them to achieve this.”
The KCLSU has issued a similar statement, telling students: “The complaints involve students in their private capacities rather than as members of this club. GKTWFC followed advice from KCLSU and correctly advised the complainant to use the existing complaints processes we have in place.” The SU’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.
Update (08.01.2021, 17:45)
The KCLSU has issued Roar a statement announcing and outlining its ruling on the matter. The statement follow:
“KCLSU respects the right to privacy of individual students who chose to use our complaint procedures. However, where a ruling by the Union is likely to have an effect on the wider student community KCLSU reserves the right to make an announcement on complaint decisions. The parties in this complaint case have been advised in advance of our ruling, and also that we will make this statement available to the wider student body.
“In advance of this announcement, we would urge all parties who have been engaging in allegations or speculation on this case to avoid inflaming or escalating this situation further. Such social media coverage has been distressing both to the parties in the complaint, as well as other students who have been drawn into this case. As KCLSU have stated previously, the GKTWFC acted correctly and in line with our guidance by putting the complainant in contact with the Union for proper consideration under our complaint procedures. The complaint was between two students in their private capacities and therefore was a matter more appropriately dealt with by the Union rather than by the club.
“The allegations of racism made by one student against another, were sensitive and personal and the details will remain confidential. KCLSU has taken the time needed to discuss these details directly with the students concerned before coming to any conclusions. However, after careful consideration by a diverse team of senior KCLSU staff, we have now determined that there was no evidence of racism, or racist intent, in the actions that led to this complaint. It was clear that a build-up of fear and distrust, during a time of heightened sensitivity during the current covid pandemic, had led to a breakdown in relations between the two parties. This resulted in an action being taken that made the complainant feel that she was a victim of racism.
“KCLSU is continuing to provide advice and support to the complainant, while also working with both parties to see where we can help them rebuild trust. We hope that lessons will be learnt here, including that facts should be checked in advance of actions that have severe repercussions on other students. KCLSU is also aware that the current, and ongoing, covid pandemic has led to many of our members feeling isolated, anxious and emotionally fragile. The Union continues to support students who may be adversely affected by the covid restrictions. Please visit our website to find out more about Advice & Support, our Peer Support and buddy system and other events and activities that we have in place for all our members during this difficult time.”
There has now also been a story put up on the @gkt_antihate Instagram page hinting a further allegation, with a link to a public video on YouTube outlining some personal experiences being a Black medical student at KCL. In this, Marie Tarawallie showed a shirt given to her as a Fresher as part of a tour to Cardiff in 2015, with the name on the back being ‘Lil Black Marie’. Whilst stating in the video that she believed it wasn’t malicious, it was indeed further evidence of ignorance on behalf of the Committee.
Roar will continue with the updates.