Image Credit: Luke Snell
Earlier today, 4 March, the popular Instagram page, York Memes (currently totalling 12.9 thousand followers), took to their public story in response to comments made about their page on URY Candidate Interview Night, by interviewer Beth Hardisty.
The statement on URY centred around the issue of "hate speech" on anonymous social media platforms at York, which the University responded to last year, and as to whether YUSU should be in dialogue with these platforms. York Memes responded to this via Instagram, disagreeing with the statement made and arguing that it was not their platform in which hate speech was spread. Subsequently, they publicly named Hardisty, and posted a picture of her next to their statement against Hardisty.
In response to this, the college chairs of Alcuin, Constantine, Derwent, Goodricke, Halifax, James, Langwith and Vanbrugh have written a statement condemning the page and ceasing affiliation with it. In their statement they say: "as student leaders, we are very disappointed that York Memes has decided to mark Mental Health Awareness Day by launching personal attacks on a student journalist, who was simply doing her unpaid job."
They continue by ceasing all affiliation with the page, stating that "in any instance, where the guise of anonymity is used against fellow students or student groups, we as Colleges will not interact or validate such platforms which use their following to directly violate our University mission statement to ensure every member is treated with the respect we expect for ourselves"
They conclude their statement by urging "the people behind this anonymous account to reflect on their actions and apologise"
We approached Beth for a comment regarding the actions York Memes have taken against her. She tells us how she "is not the first student that has been targeted by these students and if the University community and staff are not able to hold these pages to account, it is unlikely I will be the last.â€
Beth commented further on the involvement of the College Chairs within the issue, saying:
"I am grateful for the college chairs for taking a stand and I hope the individuals behind these pages understand that this sort of behaviour should not represent the University of York."
In a response to Vision on the same issue, York Memes stated:
"We have apologised to the student journalist in question. Although we made sure to only include stuff that was available in the public domain (such as YouTube video), it was 1am and one admin did not really think it through that the posts were targeting one specific student. We meant to criticise York Vision primarily, rather than the work of one non-Vision journalist."
The full statement from the College Chairs can be found below: