My letter to the Cambridge Union

Dear Sir/Madam,

Hope you are well. I wanted to make a complaint about today’s event.

There was a Pakistan Society Event at the Union “the Asif Khosla talk.” Many of my friends were going to it and I had decided to come along. 

At the door I was stopped by one of the girls and asked for my student id. I explained to them that I wasn’t a student but I was told about the event from my friends at Pakistan Society and asked to come along.

My wife is also a PhD student at the University and accordingly spouses are allowed at University events.

At that point the gentleman (a young white student of around 20) just asked me to leave saying it’s for students only.

I later found out many non-students were there but it was rather humiliating and demeaning to be asked to turn around in front of my friends. I could have argued with them but it just felt so unnecessary and it seemed like he was on a power trip.

It’s upsetting to see that not only did the usual Town-Gown divide raise its ugly head (even though within the University statutes I have the same rights as the spouse of Gown) but it felt there was an additional race divide.

I feel if it had been Pakistanis gatekeeping; there would have been so much more sensitivity shown in the matter. I felt that either I was a terrorist or some hoodlum trying to barge the sacred gates of the Union.

The irony is of course I was speaking at the Union for Majlis in March; if it’s going to be such an unfriendly environment that only the privileged feel welcomed then all cries of accessibility ring hollow.

I’m a respectable Brit-Pak professional at 34; I don’t have the heart to continue being barred and demeaned by a 20year old white Male student on a power trip arbitrarily applying the rules.

I write to you to express my dismay and regret. Initially I wasn’t going to do anything about it but after speaking to a good friend at the University, who happens to be tenured faculty in STEM; at their urging they asked me to write to the Union (and Varsity- however I’ve omitted them) as a first step to redress.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Best,

Zach

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4 Replies to “My letter to the Cambridge Union”

  1. “Initially I wasn’t going to do anything about it”

    well done for writing this and making it public, you did the right thing. It will be harder for them to discriminate now.

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    1. Thank you!!

      Oh my God I was telling this story to our friends (black wife – English husband).

      She immediately empathised and relayed her stories; he was like this wasn’t racism..

      racism is now “polite racism.”

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