Queen Mary Students’ Union has issued an apology following outrage over an email sent to all students advertising careers in the intelligence agency, MI5.
The header image, which contained solely mugshots of ethnic minorities next to the title ‘Investigations’, thereby portraying them as suspects, was deemed a racially-charged stereotype and therefore inappropriate.
Students contacted the Students’ Union directly and via Twitter to raise their concerns about the email sent on 7th February. Executive Officers also raised the matter with the marketing team.
QMSU issued a statement the following day saying, “On this occasion, the email was not checked properly, resulting in content being sent out that conflicts with our values as an organisation”.
A spokesperson for QMSU told The Print: “The advertising campaign was run through the advertising agency BAM, and not directly with MI5 themselves.
“BAM and their client MI5 were immediately notified that other advertising relating to this particular campaign had been removed. We highlighted the student concerns raised about the content. BAM also came in for a meeting with the Students’ Union the following week where the matter was discussed in more detail.”
BAM specialises in student advertising and the campaign was scheduled to be run at ten other Students’ Unions. Following the meeting with QMSU, BAM said they will be re-evaluating this campaign with the client.
QMSU claim steps have been taken to ensure content is checked more rigorously in the future, and more than one member of staff will now be signing off content for circulation in any mass student advertising.
The Executive Officers and Communications and Marketing team are currently developing new advertising guidelines for the Students’ Union. The new guidelines are due to be announced this April.