The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies board of trustees have announced director Adam Habib will resume his duties there on May 10.
In a statement released on their website, Marie Staunton, the chair of board of trustees of SOAS announced that the board had accepted in full the recommendations of the independent external investigation in the events of March 11.
On March 11, Habib, the director of SOAS (and former vice-chancellor of Wits University) came under criticism when he said the n-word during an online meeting with students. In the meeting, Habib used the full n-word to respond to students’ concerns about a lecturer who had used the word as well as the school’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Staunton said they would be putting in place a restorative justice approach for the meeting of March 11. They would be developing a policy for the SOAS community on the use of the n-word. The full recommendations from the report are to be published on the SOAS students’ portal. Staunton said as all these actions were being put in place, Habib would be resuming his duties as director from May 10.
In a Twitter statement after the incident came to light, Habib defended his use of the word.
On March 18, the SOAS board of trustees announced that Habib would be stepping aside as director of SOAS for the duration of an independent external investigation. During that time, the SOAS staff members backed a vote of no confidence in Habib with 98% voting in favour of the motion.
The report found that Habib’s “vocalising of the n-word in full, while trying to say that using the word offensively is unacceptable, did not in itself make him a racist.” In response to the report, Staunton said Habib said he accepts the judgements of the independent investigation unreservedly. “I want to again apologise to all the SOAS community for my conduct, for the offense and hurt, and for the disruption this has caused,” he said.
However, a petition started by black students from SOAS called for Habib to be removed, to resign and, or, be dismissed within the next 31 days. The petition has stated that the student did not want an apology from Habib and only wanted him to be removed from his position.
The statement from the school acknowledges that those who were calling for Habib to step down may not be happy with the recommendations. They have asked the students to work with SOAS to implement action.
In response to the statement, SOAS Drama said “investigation was a sham from the start. […] It was a PR exercise which the SOAS community knew was a sham from the start. Adam Habib must go.”
In a later interview with a SOAS independent newspaper, Habib said he was sorry that people felt offended by his use of the n-word.