The University of Surrey has investigated a former lecturer, who until recently was employed by the University, for allegedly posting Far-right content on platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.
On June 2nd 2020, the University tweeted out its support for the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the global protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd.
The tweet gained a lot of traction and engagement, with plenty of replies. Two of them were made by user Vart Andelay, who accused the University of not doing enough to combat racism, linking tweets from the account IanNews which state that a lecturer, employed at the time, allegedly produces far-right content on YouTube of racist nature.
The tweets accuse former English Literature lecturer Dr Neema Parvini of using the persona of ‘The Academic Agent’ to produce videos containing white supremacist rhetoric. Other replies to the University mention this lecturer’s alleged use of Twitter to spread hateful messages, linking The Academic Agent to a Twitter account named Shadow of St David.
In the tweets, Andelay attached recordings from a YouTube stream, where a male sounding voice can be heard saying inflammatory comments in regards to protestors, such as “They don’t deserve to survive”. The video in question appears to have been deleted from the channel, but the tweets can be found here and here.
Screenshot of a Twitter user replying to the University of Surrey's tweet with "Surrey lecturer Neema Parvini uses his time to record YouTube videos of himself saying he doesn't want to live in the same country as black people. damn right not enough is being done". The tweet quotes a video where the Academic Agent says "They don't deserve to survive... I don't want to live with them [protesters]... any of them".
Screenshot of a Twitter user replying to the University's tweet with "Surrey knowingly employs a racist alt-right internet personality and does nothing about it. they don't give a shit about racism. they just want to tweet the right things and sweep it under the carpet". The tweet quotes a video where the Academic Agent says "One of the most disturbing things I have seen... has been footage of white people kneeling in front of black people... in this obsequious and humiliating manner, it almost has sexual undertones".
In their reply to these tweets, the University stated that they had already been made aware of the situation and that they were investigating the matter. They also stated that this issue is a “priority”, but that they were unable to comment further on the situation.
This was not the first time the University has been made aware of the accusations against Dr Neema Parvini. The Stag has obtained an email from a former student at the University of Surrey who alleges that they alerted the University to Dr Parvini’s ideological career in 2017. When asked about this, the University stated, “These allegations have been investigated, but we are unable to comment on individual cases”.
An email sent to a member of the English Literature Department at the University of Surrey in 2017 alerting them to allegations about Neema Parvini
A Twitter user claiming that the University of Surrey was made aware of allegations against Neema Parvini several years ago
When contacted by The Stag, a spokesperson for the University confirmed that Dr Parvini was no longer employed by the University: “We will always investigate any serious allegations made to us about our members of staff. We can confirm all the allegations you refer to have been investigated, but we are unable to comment on individual cases.” We believe that the University stopped being Dr Parvini’s employer after 21st July 2020.
When asked about the University’s policy on lecturer’s personal views, and how they protect students from bigotry, they cited their Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech, which states that “The University believes that a culture of free and open discussion is essential in its role as an academic institution. This culture can only be achieved if all concerned behave with necessary tolerance and avoid needlessly offensive or provocative action or language. The University expects all persons taking part in its activities to respect its values, be sensitive to the diversity of its community and to show respect to all sections of that community.”
Dr Parvini was contacted for comment, however we did not receive a response.