An 18-year-old student at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in Bristol, England has won a discrimination case against the college after she was told she had to take a mandatory module on animal farming or fail the course. Fiji Willetts, who is currently studying animal management and has been vegan for four years, discovered after enrolling in the program that she had to take, and pass, a module on farm husbandry that teaches students about day-to-day care, selective breeding, and raising the animals for human consumption. As part of the course, students are expected to visit a working farm, which could include witnessing a bull castration or visiting a slaughterhouse.
“I couldn’t simply break my way of living purely to pass a course,” Willetts told UK animal-rights organization The Vegan Society. “I am vegan because I love animals and so to go against my beliefs and attend a farm where I would be supporting a farmer would be wrong.”
Willetts brought up her concerns with her tutor, before submitting a formal complaint to the college, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, and then the exam board. She was told she would not be given the opportunity to study an alternative module and that skipping the unit would result in her automatically failing the course. The case escalated to the awarding body for non-compliance with equality law, and, five months later, the college has agreed to provide a more suitable module for Willetts.