Brendan McGrath has announced he is stepping down as Union president after Ebenezer Azamati was 'manhandled' during a debate
The president of the Oxford Union, Brendan McGrath, has resigned after a visually impaired student was dragged out of a society debate ‘by his ankles.’
Ghanaian postgraduate student Ebenezer Azamati was returning to a seat he had reserved for the debate in Frewin Court on 17 October, before being pulled back by security and forcibly removed from the chambers.
Mr Azamati arrived at the event early to reserve accessible seating, as he was concerned there wouldn’t be enough provisions in place for disabled people. The 25 year-old student then went back to his college to have dinner, before returning in time for the start of the debate.
According to the BBC, Mr Azamati was then confronted by staff after trying to return to his seat, with video footage showing the blind student being ‘violently’ pulled from his seat and ‘dragged’ out of the building.
Shockingly, the Union’s president Brendan McGrath called for a disciplinary meeting after the incident, in which Azamati was charged with ‘guilty and violent’ behaviour and his union membership was revoked.
The charges against Azamati have since been dropped, but he has since revealed that the treatment made him feel ‘unwelcome in the union, Oxford and even the country.’
The incident has caused outrage within the Oxford community, with the Africa Society University of Oxford releasing a statement on their website earlier this week to condemn ‘the violent, unjust, inhumane, and shameful treatment of our member.’
Posting a letter to the Oxford Union Facebook page on Tuesday, Brendan McGrath announced his resignation and apologised for all of his ‘shortcomings’. While claiming he had been asked to bring the disciplinary complaint against Mr Azamati, the former Union president added he ‘should have recognised a wider obligation.’
He continued: ‘The right response would not have begun with prosecution and apportioning blame; it would have addressed immediately the extreme distress of all involved.’
Before concluding the letter, McGrath suggested ‘a full, public and independent review’ of the union’s policies in relation to disability, how it trains its staff and whether the current security system ‘is fit for the purpose of a student society.’