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King’s student sparks outrage over “George Floyd challenge”

A Master’s student at King’s College London has sparked outrage over his social media posts mocking the death of George Floyd, followed by hateful remarks to a fellow student. The student community has collectively called on King’s to take disciplinary action against him. 

Earlier today, a student from SOAS published a series of tweets calling out Dhruv Shah, a student from King’s Business School, for being “explicitly racist” and offensive towards a fellow student and the larger black community. The tweets provide screenshots of Shah mocking George Floyd’s death – which has spearheaded worldwide protests in support of the black community – on social media through a repost of the “George Floyd challenge”.

The “challenge” involves people posing for pictures while enacting Floyd’s death and is largely seen as a glorification of police brutality. In his now-deleted Instagram story, Shah posted the image with three laughing emojis.

King’s Student’s George Floyd Challenge

Screenshot obtained from the tweet

He has also been accused of using inflammatory and blatantly Islamophobic remarks against a Muslim student – calling them a “terrorist” and “low life peasant” – after they negatively replied to his story. While the student he targeted does not study at KCL, these xenophobic remarks are against KCLSU’s Zero Tolerance to Harassment and Bullying Policy, and Shah’s comments fall under “Harassment on Grounds of Religion or Belief” (Appendix 2, Guidance on Bullying and Harassment for Students).

Shah has since claimed that his account was hacked and that he did not write the messages himself.

Screenshot obtained from the tweet

Students have been quick to speak out on the issue, collectively calling on King’s to take “swift and effective” measures against Shah.

Screenshots from the Twitter thread

The twitter thread also reads: “If someone is being racially abused, fight for them. Let your friends know that they’re not alone. You are here to support them. Whether it’s reporting/fighting/exposing the abuser, it doesn’t matter. Just make it clear that you are behind them 100%. Or in front of them, blocking those who are reaching out an aggressive hand.”

The original tweet has since garnered 1,200 responses, and its creator, Meghna Aggarwal, said in a statement to Roar: “A single message can rattle fear into a person. It can make them question whether calling another person out for their myopic views is worth it. It can make them question whether they’re truly safe or not. Hasan is British-Kashmiri and queer. Not only is he a minority but he is an easy target for those in a safer and more privileged position to attack. Dhruv Shah evidently comes from privilege. It is clear he doesn’t feel apologetic. He used the excuse of ‘someone hacked into my account’. No remorse. No responsibility.

“KCL cannot choose solidarity with BLM and then ignore everyone else. They must set an example to their peers, to their students, employees. They must remind their 15,000+ students, that they as an establishment, will not let their allyship or opinion waver. It is their responsibility to keep students safe. KCL must take a stand and remind people with that mindset that their privilege shall not let them win in 2020 or ever.”

The backlash follows the ongoing global protests against systemic racism. As a university, King’s has been accused by many of failing its students by profiling them and treating PoC “like mould.” A former King’s student took to Twitter to tell the university: “You not only ignored us, you actively tried to stop us. You made every single one of us exhausted.”

King’s has yet to comment on the issue.

UPDATE (03/06/2020, 11:38 A.M. GMT): King’s has responded to the original tweet, stating: “Thank you for raising this with us. We do not tolerate racism or any form of prejudice or discrimination levelled at anyone based on their skin colour, ethnicity or religion. Such behaviour is subject to our misconduct processes. We are looking into this serious matter.”

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