The captain of Birmingham‘s University Challenge team faced an onslaught of online criticism after appearing to ignore the only female member of his team during last night’s episode.
Michael Joel Bartelle, from San Antonio in Texas faced a massive backlash on social media following yesterday’s quarter-final, which saw Reading University beat Birmingham with 170 points to 135.
Viewers accused the US student of ‘totally blanking’ his female teammate, Jamie Sajit, by frequently turning his back on her – preferring to chat answers through with his male co-quizzers instead.
This isn’t the first time Bartelle has been accused of dismissing his female teammate, with viewers taking to social media to vent their frustration after the team’s first appearance in December.
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The captain of Birmingham ‘s University Challenge team faced an onslaught of online criticism on after appearing to ignore the only female member of his team during last night’s episode
Unimpressed viewers of last night’s episode were quick to take to Twitter with their views, with one accusing the male team members ‘chauvinistic’ for ignoring Sajit, while others called the episode ‘toe-curling’ and ‘awkward’.
‘Rather pleased Reading won that. OK, I studied there, but mostly because Bartelle thinks he only has two other lad brains on the team…toe-curling,’ wrote one unimpressed viewer.
‘Reckon they should just go the whole hog and fit a blind to Bartelle’s plexiglass on Sajit’s side,’ said another.
‘What a great match, only marred by Bartelle totally blanking one of his own team! #UniversityChallenge’, commented a third.
Unimpressed viewers of last night’s episode were quick to take to Twitter with their views, with one accusing the male team members ‘chauvinistic’ for ignoring Sajit, while others called the episode ‘toe-curling’ and ‘awkward’
’10 points for this… “Who is going to be ignored and blatantly dismissed in tonight’s competition by the team leader of Birmingham?”,’ joked another viewer.
Bartelle, who is doing a PHD in Shakespeare studies, was accused of ignoring medicine student Jamie, from Derby, following his last appearance in December and took to Twitter to defend himself.
Dismissing the accusations, he wrote: ‘Hey everyone. I do not discriminate. When conferring, I turn to any of my teammates if they offer an answer. I love them all and they are all amazing quizzers. Lots of love to all who’ve had warm comments for our team.’
He added: ‘I’m not really sure what I can say other than that I considered every single answer that was offered by all three of my teammates. They all contributed massively to our win and I’m proud of all of them.’
Bartelle, who is doing a PHD in Shakespeare Studies, was accused of ignoring Medicine student Jamie, from Derby, during their first appearance on the show in December. The pair are pictured during last night’s episode
However Bartelle, pictured during last night’s episode, denied allegations of sexism insisting he does ‘not discriminate’
Friends also rallied to the quizzer’s defence, with fellow contestant Fatima writing: ‘Michael Bartelle is a delight and has been astoundingly supportive of my quizzing. I’m all for pointing out sexism, but this ain’t it chief #UniversityChallenge’
Former contestant on the show, James Devine-Stoneman, agreed, tweeting: ‘Just coming on here to say that Birmingham’s Bartelle is a great guy and the Twitter jury need to f*** all the way off.’
He added: ‘Good lesson in how taking a selective screenshot plus the right narrative can make anyone look awful. Complete nonsense. I was accused of the same when I was on. Don’t pass judgement people you see on screen for half an hour.’
Elsewhere on the Birmingham team was Mark McParlan, from Liverpool, who is studying History and English and John Robinson, from Sevenoaks, studying for a masters in Literature and Culture.
One viewer became so frustrated by Bartelle’s apparent dismissive attitude towards Sajit during their appearance in December, they said they ‘haven’t been able to look at the screen’
As the academic competition heats up viewer favourites have also emerged, including last night’s Reading Captain, Michael Hutchinson who was hailed a ‘standout player’ after his first appearance in August last year.
Hutchinson, a Maths PGCE student, from Andover, was praised after he got eight Starter for Ten questions correctly and also answered six bonus questions without the help of his team and a further three assisted.
Elsewhere on the Reading team was Alex Skopic, who is studying for a Masters in English Literature, Margaret Ounsley, studying for a PhD in History, and Sylvian Jesudoss who is studying for a PhD in Marketing.