Josh Samuels, President of the newly-founded St Andrews Brexit Society, has written to Principal Sally Mapstone asking her to act upon the “barrage of anti-Brexit insults, abuse and threats of violence” that he says he and his team have received since the Society was launched.
Sending his letter on the 17th July, Mr Samuels wrote to Principal Mapstone that he was “determined to put an end to the marginalisation and abuse that we have suffered”, further explaining that he hoped Principal Mapstone would join him “in fighting this cancer which has already spread rapidly throughout this University”.
Mr Samuels detailed the Society’s experience on Facebook, explaining that “fellow-students [sic] in the Class of 2022 group ‘angry reacted’ or ‘sad-reacted’” his promotions of the Society. He also wrote that he himself had been removed from the Class of 2021 Facebook Group, and that his posts in other, similar groups had been deleted.
However, Mr Samuels’ main complaint referred to an anonymous submission to the St Andrews Crushes V Facebook page, which read “Crush on any fellow comrades who will help me pelt any of the racist scum in the Brexit society with Milkshakes come September xo”
Mr Samuels claimed that this amounted not only to “an incitement of violence” but that, according to the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) definition, the post was also “inciting members of the St Andrews community to commit an act of terrorism.”
The CPS’s definition of terrorism states that “Terrorism is the use or threat of action, both in and outside of the UK, designed to influence any international government organisation or to intimidate the public. It must also be for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause.”
“With that in mind,” Mr Samuels wrote to Principal Mapstone, “you have to face up to the reality that members of your University are potentially guilty of terrorism in accordance with the aforementioned definition.”
Mr Samuels cc’d a copy of his letter to the Scotland Co-Ordination of the Brexit Party, as well as the Jo Cox Foundation. The Foundation was established after Jo Cox, Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen, was murdered by Thomas Mair on the 16th June 2016.
Further, Mr Samuels alleged that Dennis Goodtzov, SRC Science and Medicine Faculty President, approved the post in his capacity as a page admin for St Andrews Crushes V, something Mr Samuels felt “only serves to magnify how concerning this is.”
Mr Goodtzov told The Saint “It’s difficult to moderate a page with 20k+ engagements per week” and that “the post in question has since been deleted”, going on to clarify that both approving and moderating posts are more difficult during the summer holidays. He said, “These kinds of posts won’t appear on our page again, and I apologise.”
Mr Samuels’ letter continued, claiming that if he or any member of his team were “on the receiving end of any kind of threatening or abusive behaviour” (which he wrote included ‘milkshaking’) at University events, including this year’s Freshers Fayre, he would “not hesitate in reporting it to the police and the media”.
“Reports of politically-motivated abuse and violence perpetrated by members of the University of which you are the head are not in your best interest, nor in that of the University”, he wrote to Principal Mapstone.
“To that end,” he continued, “I am unequivocally insisting that you, as the University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, act upon the concerns that I have raised”.
Mr Samuels did not specify what action he thought necessary.
A University spokesperson told The Saint “Mr Samuels has been directed to our Student Harassment and Bullying Policy and offered support from our Student Services Life and Wellbeing Advisers, should he wish it.”
“In St Andrews, we trust in the power of the milk of human kindness and are confident that the majority of this community will show its abhorrence of intolerance in the most appropriate ways possible.”
In a Facebook post that the Brexit Society released on the 18th July, Mr Samuels said that, “the fact that people find it funny or trivial that we reported this only serves to exacerbate the issue.”
“That said, we are confident that the actions from the last 24 hours are the first steps in the right direction.”
The letter that Mr Samuels wrote to Principal Mapstone is shown here for convenience.