The University of Cambridge has promoted a lecturer to the rank of professor after she tweeted “White Lives Don’t Matter”.
Dr Priyamvada Gopal, 51, who teaches in the Faculty of English at Churchill College, took to the social media platform on Tuesday evening, June 23, to write: “I’ll say it again. White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives.”
The message was greeted with outrage as people called her out, hurled racist abuses at her, and issued death threats. The tweet was later deleted for “violating Twitter rules”.
A “Fire Cambridge Professor for Racism” petition was launched on the petition site change.org on Wednesday demanding that Dr Gopal be fired by the university for the controversial tweet.
The lecturer later shared some of the hate speech she had received, including from a man sending her a picture of a noose and writing: “We are coming for you you n***er loving piece of shit.”
Dr Gopal announced on Wednesday night, that the university promoted her to a full Professorship.
“I would also like to make clear I stand by my tweets, now deleted by Twitter, not me. They were very clearly speaking to a structure and ideology, not about people.
“My Tweet said whiteness is not special, not a criterion for making lives matter. I stand by that,” She added.
The University of Cambridge has now spoken out in support of the lecturer and defended rights of academic to express lawful opinions.
The Russel Group University defended the lecturer and deplored the attacks she has faced since her tweet.
A statement released by the university read: “The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions, which others might find controversial.
“[It] deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease.”
The Cambridge branch of the University and College Union (UCU), also showed their solidarity with Dr Gopal.
The union wrote: “Solidarity with Priyamvada Gopal – being targeted with vile sexist and racist abuse for speaking up against white supremacists.
“We are proud to be your colleagues both on the picket line and off it. BlackLivesMatterSolidarity.”
Many colleagues and students have since expressed solidarity with Dr Gopal following the incident, with even popular comedian Nish Kumar wading in to call her “one of the best and brightest around”.
However, the university’s defence of Dr Gopal has been labelled by some as inconsistent and politically biased.