The three suspended students at the centre of an Islamophobia row at Newham Sixth Form College (NewVic) have said that the college has found that although they do “have a case to answer” they will not face further disciplinary action.
In a press statement Sumayyah Ashraf, Humayra Tasnim and Tahyba Ahmed said they had received a letter yesterday from NewVic saying that they had “contravened the college communication policy” and “had failed to respond to invitations to meet with the college.”
But the trio said the college had failed to address their allegations about the implementation of Prevent counter-terror policies at the school and that, in effect, the college had found them guilty without properly giving them the opportunity to look over their evidence and present a defence.
They said: “Today we remain as perplexed about what we had done wrong as we were when we received the letters of suspension.. The entire incident has caused us considerable stress and has had a significant impact on us and our families. Our revision has been significantly interrupted and we no longer feel positive about our examination results.
“And we continue to remain at a loss as to what it is alleged we have done wrong. The allegation against us remains just that, an allegation, but we have felt the full force of a finding of guilt. We will continue to seek legal advice.”
Final year students Ahmed, Ashraf and Tasnim, who have all been projected to get outstanding grades at A levels, were suspended on May 22 after being accused of “misusing the college communication system.”
The trio had sent an e-mail to all students and staff protesting a college decision to cancel an event about Prevent, the government’s counter-terrorism policy which is now being implemented in British schools.
They also expressed disquiet that the senior management were dismissing the concerns of Muslim students about Prevent.
Following the suspensions fellow students at NewVic signed a petition and started a social media campaign (#Newvic3) urging that the trio be allowed to return to school and demanding that the college take a clear stance against Islamophobia.
In response to the allegations NewVic issued a statement saying the students had been been temporarily suspended for an alleged misuse of the college’s communication system, not because of raising issues of Islamophobia.
In their press statement the students also say:
– NewVic college has not responded to their legal representatives’ letters.
– They have not been provided with the specifics of the allegations made against them.
– They have not been formally invited to a meeting to discuss any allegations.
– They believe that disciplinary action would have exonerated them.
Their statement adds: “Although the college deems that there is a case to answer, they have now denied us the opportunity to answer that case. Our suspension remains unresolved. This has implications for our future education.
“In effect the college has made a finding of guilt without properly giving us the opportunity to look over their evidence and present a defence to that evidence.”