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Students protest at University College London over racist eugenics conference

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Campaigners on campuses and in communities are organising against racism, says Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2587
Students protesting at UCL on Monday
Students protesting at UCL on Monday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Chants of, “Decolonise UCL” and, “End eugenics now” rang out in front of University College London (UCL) on Monday.

Over 100 students, mainly Muslim and black, joined an angry protest after revelations that a UCL professor had hosted a racist conference on eugenics last year.

James Thompson, an honorary senior lecturer, hosted the London Conference on Intelligence.

It was attended by people with links to Nazism including Richard Lynn, who had previously called for the “phasing out” of the “populations of incompetent cultures”.

The university said that it was not aware the conference was taking place and that it would have gone against the government’s Prevent strategy.

Prevent is officially about monitoring all forms of “extremism”, but mainly targets Muslims. Ayo Olatunji, the BME officer at UCL, said, “If it was anything to do with ‘Islamism’, we would have counter terrorism police on campus.”

The odious Toby Young, who was appointed by Tory Jo Johnson to the Office for Students (OfS), was a prominent attendee at the conference. He was forced to resign from the OfS after a backlash against his bigotry.

Mataio, a UCL student, told Socialist Worker, “It really shows that racist ideas are at the heart of the Tory party.

Students opposed a eugenics conference held at UCL

Students opposed a eugenics conference held at UCL (Pic: Guy Smallman)

“They are committed to the politics of divide and rule.”


The scandal hammers home the need to build a movement against the racism pushed by the Tories and right wing press.

That’s why Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) are hosting a national student conference in London on 3 March.

It’s an opportunity to draw together the different fights against racism on campus. Sessions include Fighting Islamophobia and Antisemitism, and Decolonising Our Curriculum. SUTR groups across Britain are also building for rallies in the run-up to national demonstrations against racism in London, Glasgow and Cardiff on 17 March.

In Haringey SUTR supporters joined a welcome party at Wightman Road mosque for 40 Syrian refugee families who’ve moved to the north London borough.

And in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, SUTR hosted a community meal to raise awareness and funds for the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. They also collected for the Calais convoy on 11 February, the day after SUTR trade union conference in London.

Meanwhile in Newham, east London, the calls by schools inspector Ofsted to question girls wearing the hijab in primary schools has led to action by head teachers and governors.

The head of governors at St Stephen’s School has called on the government to ban the hijab nationally for young children.

The school admits there has been a “backlash” against its policy on this and other issues.

The key issues are choice about what children wear, and no encouragement of Islamophobia. The Tories must not legislate in this area further.

Come to the Scottish Stand Up To Racism conference, 3 February in Glasgow. For details see the Facebook event page

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