The director of SOAS university has stepped aside from his role while an external investigation takes place into complaints of anti-Black racism at the university following his use of the N-word.
Mr Adam Habib is off-duty as of Thursday, ahead of the commencement of the investigation and until the conclusion of the process.
The day-to-day running of the university is being handed over to deputy director Professor Claire Ozanne, who will serve as interim director.
News of Mr Habib’s temporary departure was confirmed by Marie Staunton, Chair of SOAS Board of Trustees, in an internal message sent to the SOAS community which read: “I have agreed with Director Adam Habib that he will step aside while this investigation takes place, so as not to compromise the investigation.
“We will continue to find ways to facilitate the mediated conversations and engagement – including with Adam – that centre the Black community and the SOAS community broadly, in ways that also do not compromise the process of the investigation.”
The move forms part of the university’s action plan to address anti-racism within the institution which includes commissioning Judy Clements OBE to conduct an external investigation into complaints it has received of anti-Black racism more broadly.
This probe will assess unexplored and unactioned complaints about anti-Black conduct across SOAS and how those affect students’ learning outcomes and staff work environment.
The university’s senior leadership team will work alongside the Race, Accountability and Listening Action Steering Group in engaging Black staff and student societies to organise “listening spaces” designed to identify the major strategic and practical shifts that need to occur in the institution.
Mr Habib has again apologised for his behaviour.
“I am mortified that I made this mistake last week and apologise for this. I have fought racism my whole life, battling Apartheid in South Africa, but this has shown me that I still have more to learn and more work to do,” he said.
“Having spent my career and my activism concentrating on equality, poverty and social justice, I moved to the UK to join SOAS a few months ago because I want to be part of positive change here. I will focus my time listening to black colleagues and students, to help to educate myself, to keep on learning, and as I do so I am open to my views changing.”