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Film Society Committee Steps Down Following Incident with Fascist Costume

A man wearing an Oswald Mosely costume was asked to leave The Rule where he was attending a St Andrews Film Society Halloween pub social. Oswald Mosely was the founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists.

The incident followed the society’s special screening of Werner Herzog’s 1979 film Nosferatu the Vampyre, at which the man revealed the fascist costume — complete with flash and circle insignia on a red armband — that he had concealed beneath his black leather coat. After the screening, the man, who is not a student at the University and had registered his membership with the society only that evening, joined Film Society for drinks and discussion at The Rule.

In a statement posted to the St Andrews Film Society’s Facebook page on 1 November, the committee said, “We would like to sincerely apologise for the incident last night”. Three days later, the committee expressed regret that “[they] did not take the appropriate action to address this at the time”, understanding that the man had “caused a significant amount of distress for [their] other members”.

When staff asked the man to take off the most overt parts of his costume and he refused, the other members of Film Society left The Rule so he could be more easily removed from the venue. In accordance with the University’s Zero Tolerance policy, he has been banned from all subsequent St Andrews Film Society events.

“Film Society condemns fascism and actions which minimise or make light of it, and so we are deeply regretful for the events that transpired that night and will ensure that no more incidents like this will happen again”, the committee said in its November 4th Facebook post. “We realise that this issue occurred due to a fundamental failing in our committee”.

Some committee members quit in response to the incident; their replacements will be elected at the society’s November 21st EGM, at which a confidence vote regarding society leadership will also be held.

In a statement to The Saint, the committee said, “Once the new committee is voted in, [it] will undergo training through Got Consent workshops. Film Society will now require new members to present their student ID when joining the society”.

The committee further commented on the difficulties it has encountered in creating an inclusive and diverse environment at their events while maintaining a level of sensitivity.

“Our nature as a society that engages intellectually with fiction necessitates inclusion of thought, even those [sic] we deem controversial. But this led us to be overly open to behaviour we did not want to confront; as such, we will now be more mindful of actions that may be perceived as harmful and intervene before they escalate”.

“We have always valued cultural diversity and so are deeply saddened that this incident hindered the hard work we have put into fostering a vibrant, inclusive community”.

Image by Jag Garcia

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