A PhD student has accused Cambridge University of "structural racism", after a white lecturer repeatedly read out the n-word in class.
Indiana Seresin posted a “withdrawal statement” online to say the “ethical and intellectual integrity” of her work had been compromised and that she must leave.
She said there were a series of incidents that sparked her decision, such as when one of the “few black students” in the class wrote to a white philosophy lecturer to say she felt uncomfortable with him repeating the racial slur.
Ms Seresin said the student was told she did not understand the “context” in which it was being said.
The situation, she claimed, escalated to the point they were accused by the English faculty of trying to ban texts where the n-word appears.
“Many of those present seemed simply unable to comprehend the difference between a black writer reclaiming the n-word and a non-black Cambridge lecturer or student saying it aloud in class,” she wrote.
“We also faced hostility regarding the idea that different rules applied to black and non-black lecturers.”
In her online statement, Ms Seresin said none of the incidents may seem “dramatic enough” to warrant quitting a fully-funded PhD position at the prestigious university.
However, she added that the “pervasive presence of racism at Cambridge delegitimises the institution”.
“I do not want to participate in re-legitimising it by contributing my time, effort, and skills as a member of the university,” she said.
A Cambridge University spokesman said the school strives to create a culture “free from racism, discrimination, prejudice and harassment”.
He said Cambridge has made it easier for staff and students to report discrimination or harassment.