De Montfort University stop racist treatment of Elizabeth Sawyer and reinstate her

De Montfort University stop racist treatment of Elizabeth Sawyer and reinstate her

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In February one of your students was allegedly racially abused by two other students. The student in question reported this to the university through the appropriate channels and the alleged perpetrators were allowed to continue with their education at the university uninterrupted.

In retaliation they recently alleged that Elizabeth Sawyer, the student in question, and her presence on campus made them feel ‘scared and intimidated’. Elizabeth denies any threats, abusive behaviour or language was directed towards the students in question. However, DMU chose to punish her placing her on suspension, at a critical time of year for her education, choosing to protect those who racially abused her. 



We also demand a full and detailed statement to explain the reasoning behind Elizabeth Sawyer’s suspension and the reasoning behind why she was suspended and those who racially abused her where not. The university should also employ an external third party to review their handling of this and other cases of racial abuse reported in the past three years. This is to ensure that best practice and being used and that the university is competently handling such cases ensuring all students are treated equally and that a similar situation will not arise again.

We believe that DMU’s stated intolerance for ‘discrimination, harassment or bullying of any kind’ does not equally extend to all students. Your suspension of Elizabeth Sawyer and refusal to suspend her those who allegedly racially abused her suggests that the university does not take allegations of racism seriously and instead seeks to protect white students and the expense of BAME students.

We believe it the different treatment by your university of the two incidents is institutionally racist and will not be tolerated. This suspension suggests that your university does not take allegations of anti-blackness seriously instead preferring to punish those who are subjected to it instead of the perpetrators. You are jeopardising Elizabeth Sawyer’s education and your stated concern for her ‘potential to use violence’ also plays into damaging narratives such as that of the ‘angry black girl’ as well as little concern for the violence of the language used in by those who racially abused her. Furthermore, she denies that any threats, abusive or offensive language as directed towards the original perpetrators.

Furthermore we believe that your statement ( is full of apologism. It is irrelevant that the students involved where friends at the time as the student in question was still allegedly subjected to racist discrimination. Furthermore, you claim that racist incidents took place off of campus but a tweet written by Elizabeth Sawyer details use of n***** on campus.

In centering her attacker’s feelings of being ‘scared and intimidated’ DMU has shown a flagrant disregard for the way that racist behaviour creates a hostile environment that intends to scare and intimidate. The University’s actions suggest that BME students, who make up more than 50% of your student body, cannot be confident that if they report racism to the university it will be taken seriously and they will not be punished for speaking out.

If you would like to raise further concerns with this situation the university’s phone number is: +44 (0)116 255 1551 and email address is Their twitter handle is @dmuleicester.