“The incident at Halland nation shows that there is a great ignorance about the values that should prevail at Lund University,” Lund University President Per Eriksson told Lundagård, Sweden’s oldest student newspaper.
The president is referring to the April 16th “jungle party” party organised by the student organisation Halland Nation, where three people with blackened faces and lynching ropes around their necks were led into the hall by a white “slave trader.”
The university administration has come under intense fire for being too passive, with critics demanding the university take action against those responsible.
“We can only act within the framework of the Disciplinary Board, and for us to do something, it must have taken place on the university premises or in connection with education. It happens that (student) nations escape that,” said Eriksson.
In an attempt to prevent the occurance of similar incidents, officials will launch a new educational course regarding the university’s core values.
The programme, with content yet to be finalised, will include representatives from both student nations and organisations as well as leaders of the school.
“We have not made the details clear, but it will not be a legal education. Instead, we will discuss the cultures that can be formed at the university and what problems may exist with them,” said Eriksson, who sees the incident as “an opportunity to clarify issues.”
“I do not think that the students who dressed up were evil, and with racist intentions. But what happened shows that there is great ignorance about racism and what can be offensive. If students had dressed up as Jews in concentration camps, people would have certainly reacted immediately.”
The party was attended by about 90 people and included the selling of the “slaves” during the course of the evening.
The incident further escalated after Jallow Momodou, the member of the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) who reported the two affiliated student associations, became subjected to racial slurs and posters featuring his face superimposed on the image of a naked man in chains.
The Malmö University student street artist and provocateur Dan Park, responsible for creating and posting the images of Momodou, has since been expelled from the school and is not permitted to live on campus property.
Park maintains his art was “great humor” meant to poke fun at people who were outraged by the event.
The school’s decision is temporary, pending the review by the University Disciplinary Committee.
The ‘tasteless joke,’ as it has been referred to, has gripped the attention of civil rights heavy weights around the globe.
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR), based in Brussels, wrote an open letter to Sweden’s Minister for Democracy and European Affairs Birgitta Ohlsson expressing its utter disgust and condemnation ‘without reservation’ to the actions, urging the Swedish government to take swift, disciplinary action.
Prominent American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson also recently wrote a letter to the Swedish Minister for Education Jan Björklund urging Sweden to question the perpetrators and take measures to ensure that Swedes are made aware of the brutal reality of the transatlantic slave trade and the part Sweden played in it.