Expelled student speaks out on “ridiculous” punishment

October 13, 2011 8:30 am 0 comments

A St Andrews student who was convicted of racism has described himself as the victim of “misinformation, melodrama and outright lies.”

As detailed in the previous issue of The Saint, Paul Donnachie, 19, was expelled from the University and sentenced to 150 hours of community service after being found guilty of a racist breach of the peace.

Charges had been brought against Donnachie after he defiled an Israeli flag belonging to Chanan Reitblat, an American student studying in St Andrews for a semester, in March of this year.

In an exclusive letter to The Saint, Mr. Donnachie attacks what he describes as Mr. Reitblat’s “malice and irrationality,” and labels his punishment “ridiculous and disproportionate,” as well as questioning the truthfulness of Mr. Reitblat’s testimony.

During an incident on the morning of March 12, Donnachie had entered Mr. Reitblat’s room in their shared halls of residence, John Burnet Halls, after a drunken night out.

Noticing an Israeli flag hanging on the wall, Donnachie declared the flag to be a “terrorist symbol.” He then unbuttoned his trousers, removed a pubic hair and rubbed it on the flag.

In his letter, Mr. Donnachie accuses Mr. Reitblat of “rabid invention,” asserting that several parts of his testimony were untrue. He particularly takes issue with his accuser’s allegation that Mr. Donnachie called him a “terrorist,” as well as with Mr. Reitblat’s denial that they had engaged in a political discussion on the conflict in Palestine prior to the incident with the flag.

“Reitblat’s evidence in court was truly Oscar worthy,” Mr. Donnachie states.

Mr. Donnachie also believes that his criminal conviction was a disproportionate response to his role in the incident, arguing that it should have been dealt with through internal University procedures rather than in a court of law.

“I maintain that this affair should have been dealt with through mediation and the buying of a pint,” he argues.

The ill-feeling between Messrs Reitblat and Donnachie shows no sign of abating in the near future. In a perhaps ill-advised allusion, in light of the charges of racism brought against him, to Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, Mr. Donnachie likens Mr. Reitblat to the character of Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, describing the American student as “akin to one with an insatiable appetite, who, having devoured his pound of flesh, wishes to further feast.”

Mr. Donnachie has announced his intention to travel to the Palestinian territories in the near future in order to “witness first-hand the degradation inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.”

Share this article

What do you think?

More from The Saint

  • St Andrews ranked as the top university in Scotland

    St Andrews ranked as the top university in Scotland

    The University of St Andrews has been ranked as the top university in Scotland, and third best in the United Kingdom after Oxford and Cambridge, according to a new higher education league table released today (Tuesday 26 May). The Guardian University Guide 2016 also places St Andrews as the only Scottish...

    Read more →
  • Anthropology paper mistakenly released before the exam

    Anthropology paper mistakenly released before the exam

    The exam paper for a final year social anthropology module was accidentally released prior to the exam. When one student sat down to take their exam last Thursday (14 May), they were surprised to find a copy of the paper for another module (SA4005 “West Indies and the Black Atlantic”) mistakenly...

    Read more →
  • The best of times?

    The best of times?

    Credit: Sarah Dickins It was the best of times, it was the best of times: and quite a lot of them too, I’ve been living in Madrid for 7 months and 22 days. Or 33 weeks and 3 days. Or 234 days, whichever sounds most impressive. In an effort to lessen the trauma of moving away, here’s a (totally self-promotional...

    Read more →
  • University backs calls for rethink of the status of international students

    University backs calls for rethink of the status of international students

    The University of St Andrews has backed calls for the UK government to reassess the status of international students. Currently international students are classified as migrants, while the University has said this should be changed so that they are classified as temporary visitors instead. The call from...

    Read more →
  • Sandy’s Sundown Stand Up

    Sandy’s Sundown Stand Up

    St. Andrews is a pretty diverse place when it comes to performance – we have dance, theatre, musicals, Gilbert and Sullivan, poetry readings, comedy – I wouldn’t be surprised if someone to tell me that we have a guild for 19th century venetian mime.  Yet one thing that we’ve been lacking for...

    Read more →