Cambridge University student union president, Daisy Eyre has renounced Toby Young’s appointment to the board of the Office for Students, a university watchdog. On her Facebook account, CUSU’s President heavily criticized his ascension to office, stating clearly that he is not ‘an appropriate choice’ and ‘utterly divorced from students’.
For Eyre, Young represents OFS’ focus on ‘criticizing student activism’, rather than offering ‘what students need’. She is concerned by the apparent link between this news and Jo Johnson’s plan to crack down on no-platforming.
In response to Johnson’s policy announcement, she did defend NUS attitude to banned groups yesterday and has again lamented the ignorance with which the group is treated. She said that the OFS was guilty of ‘passing over the NUS’ in its decision, ‘despite the fact that it represents students.’
Eyre’s public post described Young as ‘ablest, classist and sexist and therefore cannot represent the diverse range of university students.’ A petition which demands that Theresa May sack Young on these grounds has nearly reached 50,000 signatures. The numbers shot up by almost 1,000 in the time it took to write this article.
The petition describes Young as referring to wheelchair ramps as ‘an example of “ghastly” political correctness and ‘children with learning difficulties as “illiterate troglodytes”’. This is not strictly the case. Rather his Spectator column in 2012 suggested the word ‘inclusive’ was ‘ghastly’ and Michael Gove was barmy for seeking the return of O-levels, which would be judged ‘elitist’ if they were not ‘accessible to a functionally illiterate troglodyte with a mental age of six’.
The petition stretches Young’s words, but he has deleted 48,000 tweets since his appointment, one of which read, ‘Serious cleavage behind Ed Miliband’s head. Anyone know who it belongs to?’. Boris Johnson has backed his appointment but Young resists his personal caricature as a ‘heartless Tory toff’. Piers Morgan has also defended his appointment.