Imperial College Business School removed some of the content used as course material, after a student reported that it was misogynistic.
The complaint was raised by a student on the 16th November, who stated that the content used in the Managerial Economics module “objectified women” and “encouraged predatory activity”. The material was subsequently taken down, with an email informing students of the decision – along with a written apology – sent out nearly three weeks later, on the 4th December.
The Business School initially suggested asking students for recommendations for alternative module content. In an email circulated internally within the Business School, the module leads stated that this was the first complaint they had received, and mentioned that the material had “so far been seen by over 1,500 undergraduate, MBS, and Executive Education students.”
Francesca Aras, the student who made the initial complaint, said that it was “extremely disappointing” that making complaints “comes as such a detriment to students”. She went on to tell Felix: “the College has scarcely learned, or committed, to improve safeguarding of its female students. If it cannot guarantee that it will efficiently deal with these sorts of incidents and actively prevent them from happening in the future it has no place calling itself a world-leading university.”
The video in question was from the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind, and featured a group of men using game theory to ensure that they “all get laid”; mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe) advises his friends that if they “all go for the blonde” then “not a single one of us is going to get her.” It was used as an attempt to explain the Nash Equilibrium, a concept in game theory.
In an email from Francisco Veloso, the Dean of the Business School, he told students he “agreed with the assessment (of the complaint), and had it replaced immediately.”
Speaking to Felix, Fintan O’Connor, Deputy President (Welfare), said that he was “pleased that the College has taken a strong stance on the content it deems appropriate for a teaching environment”, but highlighted that he was “even more pleased by the example it shows – that a single student student can challenge unacceptable behaviour, and make a difference to Imperial’s culture for the better.”
Veloso similarly stated that the student coming forward was “an attitude and form of behaviour that I would like to encourage among all our students and staff.”
In a statement, a College spokesperson said that they were “very sorry indeed for any offence caused. It is very much neither the culture nor the behaviour we aspire to at Imperial, and an apology has been sent to all students who saw the video.”
They went on to say that “as part of the new Learning and Teaching Strategy the Business School and the College are already developing a variety of initiatives to make our undergraduate and postgraduate curricula more inclusive in terms of both the research content and teaching, and we are also looking at our current procedures around how we handle complaints from students.”
Imperial has stated that, as part of their commitments to equality, they will “create a culture where all staff and students feel valued and respected”.
This complaint comes less than a year after a report into Imperial’s institutional culture was published, which highlighted issues around bullying and discrimination on-campus, with one participant speaking about an “ingrained misogyny” that was “so deep that it had become normal”.