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Intended for The Tab.

Can cruel behaviour get you kicked out of Cambridge?

By Tilly-Fleur Hutchinson

A petition to have student Ronald Coyne removed from Cambridge University has gained both 17,000 backers since it began on 9th February, and a lot of social media controversy.

Coyne, a Pembroke College law student, caused internet controversy after a video emerged of him setting alight to a £20 note in front of a homeless man. The video, which was captured by a passer-by, was taken and posted on Snapchat, allegedly in the early hours of 2nd February.

Since the video emerged, Coyne has been expelled from his university’s Conservative Association, but many who were outraged by his actions want more.

One of these people, Matthew Newman, started a petition on, that asks for Coyne to be removed from Cambridge University, and now has 17,002 signatures. According to Newman, in a post on the petition’s page, the petition has been created ‘to support the homeless,” and that they are looking for no “physical harm to come to Ronald Coyne.”

However, the petition has caused controversy of its own, with some Twitter and Facebook users disagreeing with the idea that Coyne should be expelled.

One Facebook user, Joe Dunedin, who only signed the petition so they could leave a comment, wrote how they believe that Coyne “demonstrated ignorance and arrogance, but that doesn’t mean he should be banned from university,” and follows to say that those signing are overreacting.

One Twitter debate, started with @youngvulgarian’s post “HOW ARE SO MANY PEOPLE DEFENDING THE STUDENT WHO BURNED MONEY IN FRONT OF A HOMELESS MAN, STATE OF YOU LOT”, saw a mixture of responses, from @JonHollis9’s “There’s an argument that doing a stupid/disgusting/horrendous thing at the age of 20 shouldn’t destroy your life,” to @LadyGruoch’s “Because they too are just vicious, cowardly narcissistic dick-heads too. There are a lot of them around.

Newman’s petition is yet to have an effect on Coyne’s university career, but is also continuing to grow, with 300 more backers since the beginning of writing this article.


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