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UCL would not change this students' year abroad university despite safety concerns


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UCL student Mustafa Omer was set to study at an American university as a part of the year abroad option. 

In 2015, Mustafa rejected an offer from LSE to study Economics with a year abroad at UCL because he wanted the opportunity to enter the job market in North America. 

He was allocated a place at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in his second year but felt that the state was 'notorious for racist hate crimes' and as a black student did not feel safe to study there.

Mustafa complained to his departments' study abroad tutor Dr. Marcos Vera-Hernandez within a month of his allocation and asked to be transferred to one of the other eight universities partnered with UCL.

The tutor told him that there was 'nothing' that could be done, even though Mustafa was open to studying in Canada as per the prospectus. 

Instead, he was placed on the Erasmus programme to Berlin and suggestions of a split year abroad between Germany and North America were turned down.

Mustafa decided to stick to Missouri as he had wanted to go to America from the start but one month before he was due to travel the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) issued a travel  warning to people and students of colour, telling them to travel in Missouri at their “own risk."

Speaking to The Tab, Mustafa claimed his concerns were once again trivialised and dismissed after he spoke to another Economics tutor Frank Witte.

He told them, “Frank Witte insisted that he was taking the NAACP warning seriously, however he also made clear that it’s not a warning that the university takes into account and acts upon.”

“What makes my situation different is the fact that, if I was white, I’d be at Washington University in St Louis having the time of my life. But I’m not and that’s put me at a disadvantage, and I can no longer pursue a dream of mine as a result.”

A spokesperson for UCL said:

“UCL is aware of the case and one of its senior staff who is responsible for anti-racism has made contact with the student and will look into the issues raised with the relevant UCL departments in an attempt to resolve the situation.

“As an institution, we take seriously our role in combating racism in all forms and have in place comprehensive policies to do so.

“We also have a student support and wellbeing office that is available to provide comprehensive for students in situations such as these. They too have been alerted to the case."


One week after he posted the thread, Mustafa was called to a meeting to discuss his options.

Lead image courtesy of Mustafa Omer

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