OUOTC accused of insensitivity

first_imgOxford University Officer Training Corps (OUOTC) have been accused of insensitivity, following their ‘Officers and Zulus’ themed fancy dress party last week.The themed party concluded a series of training sessions focusing on the military tactics utilised by the British in the 1879 Zulu Wars and was an extension of the ‘military history’ syllabus due to run throughout Hilary term.The invitation announcing the event stated that “the evening’s aim is to celebrate the martial prowess of both sides in the campaign”.Yet the event has sparked much controversy within the Oxford University community.In an email before the party, OUOTC advised attendees, “In order to avoid sullying our good name, please refrain from using body paints (you know what this means in practice).”One member of Lincoln College was shocked by the party. She stated, “It strikes me that there may be something a teensy bit offensive about a group of future British Army officers (who all happen to be white, by the way) dressing up as a group of colonial invaders and the ‘savages’ they defeated.“This sort of thing horribly trivialises not only another nation’s culture, but also the oppression and subjugation of that nation as a result of British colonialism.”Others labelled the theme as ‘lacking in taste’, comparing it to Prince Harry’s infamously ill-chosen Nazi costume. A second-year English student argued, “For cadets to dress up as colonial soldiers, in order to attend a party- it’s just really disrespectful. Of course that’s going to cause offence.”Attendees defended the party, arguing that it was thematically related to the day’s educational activities.Patrick Page, a member of OUOTC and student at St Benet’s Hall commented: “I don’t think there is any question that the OTC were celebrating some sort of colonial victory. If it were, I certainly would not have gone.”Captain Christian San Jose of OUOTC added that the group were interested in examining the Zulu wars from an “Entirely military viewpoint as opposed to political or moral, we were looking at the military tactics used by the British infantry.”He conceded, “We’re not so naive that we are not aware that there is potential for offence and we made note to cadets that they should exercise restraint and that fancy dress should not emphasise any political undertones.”“People get offended about all sorts of things”, he added. “There wouldn’t be any point in not holding the evening in case we offended people. I certainly didn’t hear any complaints about it from within the OTC.”He suggested the possibility that those criticising the party may simply be trying “to get at the OTC” but stated that complaints probably came from people who “weren’t at the evening and had no understanding of what our aims were.”last_img

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