EDGE Hill University’s Students’ Union is suspending the result of its presidential election after the president-elect was pictured dressed as a concentration camp inmate.
Sam Farrell was seen in images posted on social media in striped pyjamas with a number appended, and wearing a cap, reminiscent of an inmate at Nazi camps.
The pictures were shared with the accompanying caption: “In dire need of a shower after last night’s social #gassed.”
A screenshot of a Facebook post sent from Farrell’s account last year, circulated by the Union of Jewish Students, claimed the Holocaust had “better headliners” than Reading and Leeds Festivals.
The student union said last week its returning officer could not investigate the incident because it occurred outside the election period.
“Complaints can only be made against a candidate’s behaviour during the time that they are a candidate in the election,” read a statement released on Friday.
But after Campaign Against Antisemitism publicised the incident at the West Lancashire university, the students’ union announced that it would suspend the result and open a full investigation.
CAA had been contacted by a concerned student.
“Due to new evidence coming to light and new evidence received by the university and the students’ union over the past 48 hours, new disciplinary action has also been opened,” a statement read.
“The students’ union will be fully transparent in cooperating with university counterparts in full should they wish to begin their own investigation, and the students’ union itself can confirm that it will be re-examining existing and new evidence as part of its new investigation.
“To be clear, the result of the SU presidency election will be suspended until the result of any disciplinary procedure has been finalised. We do not underestimate the severity of this situation and the harm that the SU president-elect’s actions have caused.”
Farrell, who had been due to start his role on July 1, told London’s Jewish News that he was “deeply sorry for the hurt and pain caused by posts on my social media accounts”.
He added: “It was never my intention to deliberately offend or to make any student feel unsafe at Edge Hill campus, and it causes me great pain to think that I would make someone feel excluded from their university or students’ union.
“Despite what my past posts may suggest, I do understand the severity of making light of events from history, especially when that history plays a fundamental role in reminding us of the needless persecution of others.
“I only hope I can convey how genuine I am when I say that I now realise how naïve and ignorant my past behaviour was. It was wrong, it will not happen again, and it should not have happened in the first place.”
The student vowed to “educate” himself and “take on board the concerns that have been raised” as he pledged to undertake “any training required” to mend relations.
A complaint was made to the student union in November last year, and Farrell “fully co-operated and apologised in writing for the upset his behaviour had caused and reiterated that it was not his intention to cause offence,” a statement from the students’ union read.
“He fully understood the severity of these accusations and was also given an appropriate disciplinary sanction following a thorough investigation.”
Farrell has since “tried to make amends” and took part in “proactive initiatives to support his fellow students.”
A spokesperson for Edge Hill Students’ Union confirmed on Monday it was liaising with UJS about “implementing antisemitism training as part of the officer’s induction in the summer”.
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