The campaign against Dr Frank Ellis, lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies at Leeds University, is growing. He has a history of racism, homophobia and sexism.
His recent interview with Leeds Student journalist Matt Kennard in which he called for immigrants to be “hunted down and rounded up”, and claimed that black people were genetically less intelligent than white people, was by no means his first vile outburst.
If Ellis was a Muslim making comments suggesting women are less intelligent than men and that homosexuality should be weeded out of society, there is little doubt that he would have been attacked mercilessly by the right wing press. He would probably already be out of a job.
The reaction on campus to Ellis’s abhorrent views has been one of horror and outrage.
Many hundreds of signatures have been collected on a petition calling for him to be sacked as part of the student led campaign to remove him from his position.
Ethnic minority students in particular have been rightly disgusted by Ellis’s racist views, especially those in his classes.
Ellis has previously denied having any ethnic minority students in his class, but this is false.
Jamie Caldwell, an ethnic minority student who had the misfortune to be landed with Ellis as a lecturer, has been boycotting lectures in protest. He says, “While the university have agreed to find alternative arrangements for me regarding Ellis’s class, the stress and uncertainty over what will happen to my degree is not appreciated.”
We have received messages of support from a wide range of different groups on campus including the Jewish Society and the Afro-Caribbean Society along with the full backing of Leeds University union, reflecting the breadth of our campaign.
Lizzie Bowden, a third year Leeds student, commented, “As a gay student I feel very unhappy about the university’s decision to refuse to sack Ellis. What he said about homosexuality belongs in the dark ages.
“He is attacking all students with his misinformed views and he should be removed from his position immediately.”
The Unite Against Fascism society on campus, which has been at the forefront of the campaign to sack Ellis, called a demonstration on Thursday of last week on campus.
Due to internal elections at the university we were only able to build the demonstration for two days, yet the event was a fantastic success.
Over 300 staff and students, supported by delegations from as far away as Warwick and London, gathered outside Ellis’s office.
Ellis had cancelled all of his lectures and decided not to come into university on Thursday. This shows that we are having an effect.
We shall continue building our campaign and we will take direct action if necessary.
The message from our demonstration was loud and clear.
An attack on one student is an attack on all students and we are here, black and white, united against your racist bilge. Dr Frank Ellis, your days as a lecturer are numbered.
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