Blind student forcibly removed from debate event, Oxford Union president resigns


OXFORD: The Oxford Union president has resigned after a blind student was forcibly removed from a debate event by a security guards. Postgraduate student Ebenezer Azamati was escorted from the venue by a security guard when he tried to return to a seat before the debate last month.

Union president Brendan McGrath said he had resigned because it was his “job to ensure that every Member feels welcome at the Oxford Union”. “For all of my shortcomings, and all of my mistakes, I apologise profusely and unqualifiedly,” he wrote in a statement on the debating society’s Facebook page on Tuesday night.

Mr Azamati, an international relations scholar from Ghana, said his treatment left him feeling “unwelcome in the union, Oxford and even the country”. He successfully appealed on Saturday against what he told the BBC were claims of “false violent disorder” by the union. The society operates independent of the university and has hosted speakers and debates since 1823.

Mr McGrath faced a vote of impeachment which quickly achieved 150 signatures, the necessary amount for a vote. Mr McGrath said: ‘For all of my shortcomings and all of my mistakes, I apologise profusely and unqualifiedly.’

Mr Azamati, 25, told The Sunday Times: ‘I felt that I was treated as not being human enough to deserve justice and fair treatment.’

Mr Azamati arrived early at the Oxford Union on October 17 to reserve a seat as he was worried there were no special provisions for disabled students. He placed a book on an accessible seat near the entrance to the chamber to reserve it and went back to his college for dinner.

When he returned later, accompanied by a friend and sat down, officials refused his attendance and were seen manhandling him out of his seat.