Stirling Uni: There can be no cover up over blacking up

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[Content warning: racism, racist images, blackface]

Just over a week ago, I came across a picture featuring members of Stirling Uni FC’s Men’s Football Teams, drinking in a Stirling Venue, in blackface.  By the following day it was national news and in response, 4 of the 6 teams were suspended from footballing duties, pending investigation.  We’ve been investigating for over a week now, so we thought we’d offer up this wee head start, for when the relevant authorities get round to it…

The Uni has an interest in have a quick sesh in the Uni Senate with minimal fuss.  Maybe 6 months down the line, once the media interest fades, it can all be declared one-off high jinx lad bants and then we all get back to  making money providing what I’m sure is a world class standard of education, without too much damage to the “brand.”

Since the story broke, those occupying the more shadowy corners of the internet have been crowning themselves in all kinds of glory, including those purporting to be members of Stirling Uni FC.  Violent threats were posted against member of staff at student paper, The Tab, who broke the story, via anonymous messaging app Yik Yak, with one user also claiming they intended to sue everyone who identified their behaviour as racist.

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Messages which appeared on Yik Yak, threatening a university journalist [name redacted by ATF].

The mixture of violent and legalistic attempts to shut down discussion certainly  seem to be doing the trick when it comes to keeping members of the Student Union quiet.  We’ve been referred to a 4 line statement more times than we’d care to count.  It’s nice to know we can rely on the student body to take a stand when it matters.  We suspect this silence is not freely chosen, given how much stoodent politicians love mouthing off to all and sundry about parking/the management/late capitalist patriarchy when given half a chance.  Attempts to ascertain exactly who is directing this robotic defence have as yet been fruitless.

It’s worth noting that the recent election hustings were cancelled with no explanation, even though everyone obviously knew why.  The winning candidate for Student Union President, Andrew Kinnell, included in his manifesto some admirable and bold commitments to tackle lad culture, promote equality and “Work with International Societies to help better celebrate the diverse cultures present within the student population.” Last night, he was being chased around by campaigners, in an attempt to understand whether he stood by his promises of epic diversity and full communism.  Kinnell was quick to rebuke any suggestion that he’s been told not to discuss the issue by anyone at the University, which is one of those moments where the excuse is somehow worse than the suggestion…It’s been a while since we last went to war with a member of the Scottish Socialist Party Executive Committee and suffice to say, he no longer holds that illustrious office.

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Any excuse for a cameo appearance.

If the new President-Elect wants to tackle lad culture, woop, there it is! Now’s your chance to speak up about why we need to “better celebrate” those diverse cultures, whose votes were being courted just a few days ago.  We await the comrades call to arms on this.

Anyways, the current members of the Student Union are standing firmly by their “no comment” policy for the time being and we understand even the Politics Society has been warned off hosting any discussions on the matter.  This should surely lead us to ask, who’s trying to cover up what?  And point out, that’s not going to work.  Nae joy.

Evidence obtained by A Thousand Flowers proves this is not an isolated incident and that members of Stirling Uni FC have been cutting about in and hanging around with people in blackface at various points over the last few years.  All these photographs remain, at the time of publication, freely available and in the public domain.  Available to all their fellow members of the Uni, the football team, the sports societies, the Students Union etc. etc.

There is just 1 rule of blackface – don’t do blackface.  If there were to be a second rule, it would probably be something like “don’t post a picture of yourself doing blackface on your own Facebook page, tag yourself and everyone else in it, and then proceed to share it to public pages with thousands of followers before commenting on it yourself.”  Sadly, the man once described on Stirling Uni FC’s Twitter as a “goal machine” didn’t follow either of these rules.  Also tagged in the picture is a former member of the Rugby Team, as if to prove that blacking up is a cross-discipline event.

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And who’s this then??  The below photo contains 11 people who appear to be footballers…but we have reason to believe they might not actually be Man Utd. We know the identities of the overwhelming majority and the only connection we’ve uncovered is that at least 7 of them can be confirmed as having played for Stirling Uni FC.

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We’d be prepared to hazard a guess that the above picture is another recent example of a “Stirling Uni FC lads night out”, sanctioned or otherwise.  The photo was posted in 2014.   Further images featuring the team members suggest either that this night out may have occurred in November 2013 or that these same people regularly black up and cut about Stirling.  We’re not even sure what’s most likely at this stage.

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S/o to Fubar Stirling for allowing this shit to go on in their club, as they did this past Thursday.

Fans of the “it’s fine coz there’s like, no negative racial stereotypes” angle could perhaps try explaining the next two pictures.  Both were posted by different members of Stirling Uni FC, in 2014 and 2013 respectively.

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If a bit of primary school level Facebook snooping can uncover this, we suspect there’s a lot the Uni would have an interest in not being available and in public domain, so it’s a shame their students and former students put it there, over and over again.  We publish these pictures not to target individuals but to evidence that this goes far beyond just one incident on one night.  That in no way negates the fact that everyone born after the 1920s knowns blackface is a roaster thing to do.

Surely any inquiry must look at how this kind of behaviour, considered by many as little more than racial incitement, was tolerated for so long in such plain sight.  Student bodies and elected representatives must resist any threats from those with an interest in sweeping this under the carpet, whoever they may be.  Attacks on the press (and yes, that includes those writing for a student paper) must also be rigorously investigated. It’s also not actually against the law to point out why blackface is considered racist. We’re not strangers to the odd writ at ATF but we can say that with some confidence.

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Get yer court, you’ve pulled.  Now pull the other one.

[Far be it for me to chuck accusations around if we’re looking for some context as to why people are allowed to express an opinion that those who engage in blackface probably don’t do so with the intention of promoting an inclusive atmosphere, the week marks the 100th anniversary of the release of what’s widely considered to be the first film, the work of a group of “lads” (of broadly Scottish extraction) which featured blacking up.  “Birth of a Nation” was first aired on February 8th 1915…in association with the Ku Klux Klan.]

Without a discussion as to the purpose and scope of any investigation and what the desired outcomes are, the University will be allowed to either minimise the extent of the issue, or just blame it all on a few people.  They have basic responsibility as a publicly funded institution to make sure no-one could possibly be allowed to claim they weren’t aware this was thoroughly offensive and dangerous behaviour.  They also have a responsibility to protect students challenging and refusing to tolerate behaviour which is at such clear odds with the stated ethos of the University.

This is not about just Stirling Uni FC, it’s not just about Stirling Uni.  But the fact is, the ball is now firmly in their court.  The University must now be forced to seize the initiative, to accept this isn’t a one night stand but a hoachingly embarrassing affair which appears reflective of a culture in the team and on campus and to take credible and active steps to change that culture, with the broadest possible engagement from the student population.  It may well have been going on for years without a massive rammy but the rammy is here and it isn’t going away.

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Further Reading:

WEEKLY WANKER #045: STIRLING UNI FC

GUUdbye Ya Pricks!

Spotted Dicks: The Creeps at Glasgow Uni

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Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AThousandFlowers

Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal

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5 responses to “Stirling Uni: There can be no cover up over blacking up

  1. I have a lot of respect for A Thousand Flowers, but I think you’ve got it very wrong if you think the correct response to this incident is to try to defame Andrew Kinnell or the SSP. The man has only just taken office and yet, despite what you say here, has made a public statement on the issue and what he thinks is the best way to tackle it. There is an “investigation” underway by the uni and we will definitely be hearing more form Andrew on the subject when it reaches its conclusion. And, to compare Andrew to Tommy is pure sensationalism. If you are comparing Andrew to that misogynistic self-aggrandising egoist then you clearly know little of Andrew’s politics or his person, Andrew is the opposite. If you are using Andrew as an excuse to air an old grudge then I’d appreciate if you didn’t. Attack Tommy, sure, I’ve no love for the man at all, but, just to repeat, he is no longer in any way associated with the Scottish Socialist Party. I am with you with everything else, I just don’t see why an issue that should not reflect on them at all should be needlessly used as an attack on the SSP.

    • Thankfully Paul, despite initial resistance, the only person in any position to push for a broader investigation has now said he will speak BEFORE the conclusion of something we should be fighting tooth and nail to shape. A good outcome. It’s dissapointing people think it would have been tolerable to allow for a wait and see approach and I’m glad we’ve forced AK to reconsider that. The number of comments suggesting it would be acceptable to leave this campaign high and dry and say in 6 months it was a cover up suggests I was entirely vindicated in suggesting a more full and robust defend was needed, and will now occur.

      Not gonnae repeat, over and over, that you are misrepresenting our relationship with the SSP. They are the only party who feel entitled to some kind of privileged reporting here, which we simply cannot allow. Those whose concerns I raised don’t have a bunch of loyalists on hand to defend their actions and deserve to be considered. I will not supress what I uncover due to its not being easy for me, or those I’m covering, to deal with. I will not compromise our independence just because you think your tribe deserves special treatment.

      Our perfectly sensible request will now take place, so I’d suggest it can’t be that fucking slanderous to suggest. We’ve forced the hand of a politician and got a good result for a campaign. That’s why we’re respected, you just don’t like it when it’s your turn. Tough.

  2. 1) Andrew Kinnell is not the current president of Stirling University Students Union. He doesn’t take the position until June 1st.

    2) When you barged in on him without any warning and shoved a camera in his face he gave you a condemnation of the events, and referred to his plan to have sports teams to sign a contract which would immidately eject those caught involved in any bigoted behaviour such as Busgate last year and everything to do with the blackface incident.

    3) The current president of the Student Union was in attendance at the event you ran into the harass Andrew in, yet you didn’t bother to ask her for any sort of input.

    4)Trying to link the SSP in its current state to an odious figure who is now long gone and will never be welcome again seems nothing more than the icing up this total hatchet job of a person who has still to even take office.

    5)It is also telling that you didn’t bother to mention the current Sports Union President or his successor, never mind ask them for statements on the issue.

    A Thousand Flowers is an excellent blog, but to have something like this hosted on it brings down some of the excellent pieces that have came from it in the last couple years. Juan Mac whoever you are, please just admit you have an issue with the SSP and come back with whatever legitimate complaints you can find

    • This isn’t a big conspiracy because I have a vendetta (that started yesterday) against the party I spent so many great years building, met many of my friends in and whose members I regularly invite to write for the blog. I take any such comments with a barrel of salt because it’s just very silly.

      I don’t generally bother to have a long drawn out rammy when there’s clearly such a massive gap in understanding of our intentions but there is a specific suggestion doing the rounds I need to address – that somehow, despite me reporting that part in 3rd person, I was running around shoving camera’s in people’s faces in Stirling. I referenced in the piece that it happened, It’s quite a good anecdote, also quite funny , that doesn’t mean I did it!

      1) President-elect, said so
      2) Not me
      3) Not me
      4) “any excuse for a cameo appearance” plus a picture of our blog muse, not a comparison. The SSP as a political organisation is not a relevant factor (and I don’t mean that in an offensive way), jokes about our ability to get results are always relevant. One of the few opportunities for a bit of light relief in a pretty grim tale.
      5) Nothing of interest from any of Union mob, as I said. Why would last leadership be calling for broad investigation into themselves? That’s a non-starter. That’s why it’s so urgent that the President-elect takes the lead and calls for a broad investigation right now.

      We raised what we believed, and still believe, to be the entirely legitimate concerns of those involved in this campaign and their expectation, WHICH IT IS NOT MY JOB TO CONSIDER UNREASONABLE, that active solidarity should not need to be uncovered by my or anyone elses’s lengthy and thankless investigations I understand as a result of raising this, a statement is forthcoming, which is warmly welcomed and I hope, just the first step in building a mass movement to win the broadest possible investigation into the clearly persistent and historic behaviour which this piece has now evidenced beyond doubt.

      People can chose to interpret us or own intentions as they see fit but I would suggest that ultimately, the correct outcome will be obtained as a result of this, that remains my sole focus.

      • Im not interested in conspiracy theories, I have a great respect for this blog and it’s contributors, and those I have met have never seemed hostile to the SSP, some seemed very amenable to us. Neither am I suggesting that you compromise your journalistic integrity purely to protect us “when it’s [our] turn.” I simply felt that you are overly harsh in this article on Andrew, implying he is failing to live up to his manifesto commitments when he is yet to take office and failing to put in the spotlight the incumbents. And, that your talk of going to war with the SSP executive is sensationalism and, though perhaps this was unintended, needlessly provocative.

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