WARNING: This article contains some content and screenshots which some readers may find upsetting.
Two students currently holding positions as Part-Time Working Class and Social Mobility Officers, have been identified in relation to a series of Twitter comments issued between 2012-2017. Connor Drake, currently running for the role of Union President in the 2019 YUSU Election Campaign, has been identified along side Sean Price-Regan, fellow Working Class officer.
Connor Drake and Sean Price-Regan both currently hold the position of Working Class Officer, a position established in last year’s elections. Drake has emphasized in his presidential manifesto the importance of harnessing YUSU “as a force that creates student opportunities” and reaffirms the importance of making student voices heard. Part of his manifesto rests on the importance of making the University of York an “inclusive campus” that will promote diversity. Further to this, Drake has stated in his president manifesto, “York’s best quality is its diversity – we need to celebrate this. If elected as President, I will shine a light on the diversity of our community in everything that I do.” Connor Drake’s full manifesto can be viewed on the YUSU website.
After contacting both for comment, The Yorker is still awaiting a response from Sean Price-Regan.
Screenshots sent to The Yorker contain the following, “I was scared the Jews would repeat their attack of 9/11,”
After conducting an advanced Twitter search, Connor Drake’s Tweets issued in 2012 and 2014 can still be found. That of Sean Price-Regan cannot be found.
A Tweet issued in July 2012 stated, “:O spafe n****”
A further tweet issued in November 2013 stated, “not rape if nowt goes up the bum,”
Members of The Yorker believe sharing these tweets are in the student interest, within this contentious period of YUSU Elections.
Since publication, the individual issued a statement eight hours after The Yorker asked for comment:
“I would like to respond to your email – apologies for taking so long. It’s Connor btw.
First and foremost, I would like to apologise for all of the tweets, but I would like to give some context. I wrote most of those tweets when I was aged 16-18, long before I came to university, and with that, they do not represent my views now, nor do they represent views that I have ever held.
Furthermore, they were tweets written when I was young and immature, with most of the tweets, bar the one from 2014, were written when I was under the age of 18, and again, do not reflect the person I am now. I deeply regret the content of the tweets and I would like to again apologise for the content within them.
With regards to my candidacy in the current elections, I am running to be President because of the ideas and views that I hold now. I came to university to become a better person and to make society a better place, and I have worked incredibly hard to do this during my time at university.
Again, I must put on record that I apologise and deeply regret the content of the tweets, and say that they do not reflect who I am now, nor do they reflect my views now.”
“Sorry to message again, but I want to clarify that the tweet about 9/11 is a quote from Borat, and the tweet about rape is a reference to Peep Show. Again, the tweets were posted when I was young and stupid and they don’t represent me now.”
Since the time of publication, James Durcan (current YUSU President) has provided The Yorker with this statement from a “YUSU Spokesperson,”
“The Part-Time Officers have apologised for the historic and inappropriate tweets which were made prior to the individuals holding office.”
24 hours after initial publication, York Jewish Students issued a public response on Facebook:
“Mr. Drake, in his response to the discovery of the tweets, believes that context is required. He claims he was ‘young and immature’. Ultimately, there is no context that mitigates anti-semitism.
There must be no place for anti-semitism anywhere, including at the University of York or within our Student Union.
As Jewish Students, we would feel deeply uncomfortable being represented by Mr. Drake as President of the Student Union. We ask that students, when they come to vote, exercise their judgement when thinking about whether such an individual is fit for office.
Finally, to the People of Colour and to the victims of sexual violence also insulted by Mr. Drake: the students of the Jewish Society of this University stand with you now and will stand with you always.”
The Yorker had requested comment from Sean Price-Regan and Nayomi Karthigesu (current Part-Time BAME Officer). This article will continue to be updated in due course if additional responses are received.
DISCLAIMER: This article was edited 18/02/19 at 22:05 to include comments since made by the individual which The Yorker did not have access to at the time of writing and further publication.
This article was additionally edited 19/02/19 at 12:13 to include comments received by James Durcan.
This article was additionally edited 19/02/19 at 23:04 to include the statement from York Jewish Society.
This article was taken off The Yorker website 20/02/19 at 10:00 whilst it was under review by The Yorker’s board of directors. After seeking legal advice, members of The Yorker have decided to re-post. The article has undergone further edits since initial publication. Requests for comments are ongoing.