University lecturers criticised for suggesting Conservatives are ‘vermin’ and lack ‘social conscience’

Students urge institution to ensure subjects are taught in 'impartial manner'

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 16 December 2019 15:56 GMT
The main building of Cardiff University
The main building of Cardiff University (Wikimedia Commons/Stan Zurek)

Cardiff University lecturers have been criticised by students for suggesting people who vote Conservative are “vermin” and lack a “social conscience”.

The Cardiff University Conservative Association, a student society, has spoken out against the comments by academics, saying is a “real shame” to see young Conservatives being “attacked” by senior lecturers.

The students are calling on the university to ensure classes are taught in an “impartial manner”.

It comes after Dr Andy Williams, senior lecturer at the university's school of journalism, media and culture came under fire for branding Conservative voters “vermin” after the general election.

Dr Williams referred to polling data suggesting that men and older voters were more likely to back Conservatives. He tweeted: “British men & boomers [are] statistically more likely to be vermin than women & the young.”

Following criticism online, Dr Williams said he was quoting his political hero Labour's Aneurin Bevan.

Dr John Jewell, director of undergraduate studies at the university's school of journalism, media and culture, also allegedly tweeted: “How can anybody - anybody - who professes to have a social conscience vote Conservative. It’s that simple.”

Dr Jewell’s tweet, and his Twitter account, appear to have been deleted after concerns were raised.

James Wallice, president of Cardiff University Conservative Association, told The Independent: “Whilst we respect the right for Dr Jewell and Dr Williams to make such claims, concerns do arise over the impact such views have on their students, specifically the Conservative inclined students that they teach.

“We want to be clear that we aren’t calling for the resignation of the above mentioned lecturers. We are however asking the university to ensure the subjects they teach are done in an impartial manner.”

Former Conservative assembly group leader Andrew Davies said he has been contacted by many students concerned about an “increasingly intolerant atmosphere on campus.”

He has written to the Cardiff University vice-chancellor to ensure “no student feels intimidated or unable to express their views”.

A Cardiff University spokesperson said: “These are Dr Williams's personal comments, expressed on his personal account. They do not reflect the view of Cardiff University. We will respond to Mr Davies's letter as soon as it's received.“

They added: “Dr Jewell’s comments do not reflect the view of Cardiff University.”

Both Dr Williams and Dr Jewell have been approached for comment by The Independent.

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