The sensitive subject of the small numbers of black students accepted by Oxford University’s various colleges has come back into view, thanks to the efforts of Tottenham MP David Lammy. And the response to his arguments shows that the attitude of those white pundits needs to change just as much as Oxford does.
David Lammy MP
After Omar Khan of the Runnymeade Trust had told “You'll hear a lot of explanations abt why the small number of black students at Oxford isn't a problem. One eg is the relatively few number getting 3 As or above. But 1. There are 630 such students 2. These arguments encourage applicants to think that Oxford isn't for them” (you can see the whole thread HERE), Lammy took up the points raised.
“630 Black British students get 3 A's and yet 1 in 4 Oxford colleges did not have a single Black British student in the entire cohort in at least one of the last three years. Not one Black British student offered a place for Computer Science or Psychology. Go and find the talent”. At this point, it might be expected that someone out there would engage with Lammy. But the establishment mindset is always to spin defensively.
So it was that the loathsome Toby Young airily asserted “I blogged about David Lammy’s previous attack on Oxford for admitting too few black British students … issue isn’t Oxford’s bias, it’s that too few black British students are getting 3 As at A level. Solution is to improve schools”. Those 630 black students had already been forgotten.
Lammy was not impressed, and he was right not to be impressed. “Toby tell us again about that time you got into Oxford because your Dad (a Baron) rang up the College to ask them to let you in because you didn't get the grades? And then come back to talk to me about institutional bias and why white students twice as likely to get in as black”.
So along came Tobes’ pal Fraser Nelson. “David, are you saying that black students with top grades are less likely to get into Oxford than white students with top grades? Your tweets don’t make it clear, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to discourage any applicant by giving the wrong impression”. See, it’s the black man’s fault!
Lammy put him straight, too. “I’m not saying it, the university’s own data is saying it. Putting people off applying by forcing Oxford to publish the data? Fraser I’m sure working class, northern and ethnic minority young people are perfectly capable of looking at the data and making their own minds up”. But the Pundit Establishment wasn’t done yet.
Iain Martin, spinner and abuse merchant of no fixed principle, weighed in. “This monstering of Oxford is ludicrous. It is a leading global institution, not a plaything of govt. Fix the school system”. Oxford clearly ranks as high as any in Rome!
And the same argument Tobes made, which had already been addressed. Lammy had to remind him “Oxbridge gets £700 million a year from the taxpayer and the Oxbridge admissions system decides who gets to be the next Cabinet Ministers, newspaper editors, senior civil servants, FTSE CEOs etc. So it does matter to my constituents and to every person in this country, actually”. We’re paying for it, spinners.
Perhaps those pundits should listen to Lammy, rather than talking at him. Just a thought.