SCOTTISH law students have sparked a racism row after allegedly “blacking up” as Somali pirates on a drunken night out.
The undergraduates from Edinburgh University pulled the stunt to take part in the annual ‘beerienteering’ race across the city.
The event, organised by the Edinburgh University Law Society, involved a fancy dress competition.
Students, including members of the veg society and Amnesty society, have condemned the “blacking up”.
Pictures posted on Facebook appear to show law students dressed in camouflaged trousers, dirty, yellow T shirts, headbands and blacked up faces and hands.
Amie Robertson, of the Edinburgh University Tibet Society, who was present on the night, said: “The members were dressed as Somalian pirates due to the ‘around the world’ theme of the social.
“A stand-off ensued with members of Tibet Society, Amnesty International and Vegetarian Soc. calling out the students. Their reply? “It’s only for one night”.
“We cannot condone such behaviour in our student body.”
A statement from the University’s Vegetarian Society said: “Condemning actions like this is so important.
“After we explained all this to them, their excuse was ‘it’s only one night’.
“This is so wrong.”
Nadia Mehdi, Vice President Societies and Activities at Edinburgh University Students’ Association, said: “I’m really shocked to see that in this day and age these students weren’t aware of or chose to ignore the offense they would cause by painting their faces black.
The theme of the fancy dress competition was “Around the World”.
The winners were a team called “whatusain?” who pretended to be Jamaica – although without blacking themselves up.
Keir Gilius, President of Edinburgh University Law Society, said in a statement: “The fancy dress theme was ‘All Around the World’.
“As a society, we try to arrange our events with innovative and interesting themes leaving scope for attendees to use their imaginations.
“In no way was this theme intended to incite racism or cultural appropriation, and as a society, we are vehemently opposed to discrimination of any form.
“On behalf of the members of our society, we apologise unreservedly for any upset caused. In response to some of the costumes designed, in the future we will strive to ensure that any fancy dress events will actively discourage the use of any costumes that could be perceived as being offensive; if so, the wearers may be denied participation in said event.
“As a society, we respect our members’ right to freedom of expression; however, cultural insensitivity is intolerable and this is something that we are completely opposed to.
“In light of the ongoing and comprehensive commentary on our Facebook page, I would not propose to discuss any further details.”
But some students have backed the Somali pirates.
One user, Hannah, wrote: “How is it racist to dress up as a Somalian pirate? Or as a Red Indian? People are far too hyper sensitive these days. Ridiculous.”