On Tuesday I met Elrica Degirmen, the Manchester Student-cum-Oxford BNOC (kinda) known for her notorious posts on Open Oxford. ‘Robust dissenting opinions’, as one member recently put it…

Open Oxford was founded last May by a group of Oxford students who felt that the University does not offer an adequate platform for free speech, operating on the premise that free speech is being “slowly curtailed by student bodies and society.” Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it has become a bit of a haven for right-wing (and, yes, occasionally really very right-wing) thought that does not otherwise get a fair hearing at Oxford.

Open Oxford, Elrica explains, is the antipathy of a safe-space: “I don’t believe in the idea of being deliberately offensive. You should just say what you think and feel.” Equally, you can receive any amount of disagreement (and often abuse) for your penny’s-worth, and the general feeling is that, if you can’t take it, just leave the group.

Which leads me onto one of the stranger aspects of the group: despite having about a dozen (Elrica’s estimate) regular contributing members, the total membership is currently around four and a half thousand people, giving it a bigger platform that the Cherwell, VERSA and the Chancellor’s emails (going by the guestimate that about 1 in 10 of us actually open them) put together.

Elrica concedes that “many are there for the voyeuristic aspect of the group” – and you can’t blame them. The page this year entrenched its reputation as a haven for contrarian and often noxious views, from the standard right-wingery: ‘hopefully the purge of Nazi sympathisers from Labour will destroy the party’, to the odd white supremacist and, more recently, nasty break-out of ‘shit-posting’, which resulted in a series of bans, breakaway groups etc. etc.

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Do you hear the people sing…?

I asked Elrica how she could reconcile Open Oxford’s sole purpose as a ‘freeze peach’ platform with the string of bans carried out by the groups’ admins. “It’s the principle… people need to understand that free speech is being slowly curtailed. In most countries the restriction to freedom of speech comes from the government. However, here, ironically, it is the student bodies and society who limit free speech.”

It’s not all right-wingery though, and, as Elrica says, “some lefties do actually welcome debate” – indeed they do. On her personal involvement in Oxford politics as a Manchester student, she answered: “I was very vocal at Manchester, but Manchester is overwhelmingly left wing […] Nobody really knew me here. I wasn’t going to face any repercussions; nobody could report me.”

We’d been sitting in the drizzly Turf garden for half an hour at this stage, and I had to ask: “Do you believe in privileged voices” – the answer was a quick, firm, perhaps obvious, “No.” “They [the ‘regressive left’] look at me and realise I don’t conform to their stereotype. They think my voice should be silenced, I should be oppressed, I should be victimized, and when I speak it sort of shatters their world view and they don’t like it because now they can’t attack me on the basis they normally do: if you are a rich, privileged, white, privately educated, heterosexual, man.”

So, there you have it – VERSA can only hope that the recent calming of activity on Open Oxford is indicative of no more than exam pressure…

This article has 18 comments

  1. why the fuck would you commit such an atrocity

    she literally is incapable of reason and logic, she spouts views without the capacity to first form them

    she doesn’t know why she says the things she says but nonetheless out the fucking pour from her sore-loser Oxford-reject mouth

    seriously MOVE ON

    • Finn "90 seconds" Lees

      People said lenin committed atrocities

      BUT THEY WERE RUNNING DOGS.

      ALL POWER TO THE SOVIETS!!!!

  2. So annoying. Stop giving her publicity.

  3. She doesn’t have any form of cogent arguments. I wouldn’t even call what she posts as “views”. She makes vaguely anti-left or right wing statements that just hang in the air like a damp fart.

  4. Finn "90 seconds" Lees

    ELRICA IS WORSE THAN LENIN

    I LOVE LENIN

    I WISH LENIN WOULD COME TO OUSU MEETINGS

  5. Finn "90 seconds" Lees

    Lenin was 9/10 MINIMUM

  6. Finn "90 seconds" Lees

    Lenin is a legend

  7. In response to various comments above, the very controversy that the interview has caused proves that there is sufficient interest in its subject to merit attention. Elrica is a ‘BNOC’ without being ‘OC’, an interesting enough position for anyone.

  8. While I don’t agree with everything Elrica says, I think she adds (a) unconventional views and (b) banter to most debates on OO and certainly enriches the subculture of Open Oxford that the users of it know and love. I, personally am glad that Elrica is here and I was a little upset when, for example, she disappeared from Facebook entirely lately.

    • Euphegenia Baxter-Trevelyan

      What? No she doesn’t. The reality is the precise opposite, and the whole thing about her. The wank she spouts is entirely generic and predictable, and she has done more than anyone to cheapen and destroy what was once a pretty fun Facebook group. Ho hum.

    • she disappeared because she got banned from the groups after she harassed bullied and tried to dox members of the groups

  9. “I don’t believe in the idea of being deliberately offensive.”
    Seriously?!
    You have a history of being purposefully offensive, from harassing people you disagree with by being nasty about their mental health issues, to calling left wing people ugly, to publicising other people’s sex lives on the internet or making sweeping and derogatory statements about those you disagree with, you’re seriously trying to argue that you argue based on reason and don’t try to wind people up?
    Sorry, but I’ll take you more seriously when you’re not a walking, talking double standard who complains about censorship but then bans everyones you disagree with, or cries foul on identity politics and yet frequently judges people based on arbitrary criteria (eg race, gender, politics)

  10. “Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it has become a bit of a haven for right-wing (and, yes, occasionally really very right-wing) thought that does not otherwise get a fair hearing at Oxford.”

    So right wing that every single poll so far has indicated that people are voting Labour or self-identify as left wing.

    WHEN WILL THIS OO IS RIGHT WING MEME DIE

    REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

  11. Guys stop being mean

  12. Lukinder Surprise

    classic Elrica ell 😛

  13. Rachel Dlugatch

    BASED SMELLREEKER DEGENERATE

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