We asked your uni what it’s actually doing to fight racism, beyond a statement

Only a third of unis actually had an answer


Since the killing of George Floyd led to Black Lives Matter protests springing up across the UK, you’ve probably seen your university issue a statement on social media. Most likely, it’ll say how your uni opposes racism and wants all students to have a safe environment.

But what are universities actually doing? We contacted unis to ask what they’re doing to combat racism and promote diversity on campus, and if any of this is actually new as a result of their statement.

Of 29 unis The Tab contacted, just over a third bothered to give us an answer, and only two actually committed to something new and concrete with their statements.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen posted a tweet saying: “Since 1495 we have been open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others”. It added: “We stand together with Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA) @abdnunisa and our whole #ABDNfamily to celebrate our values of inclusivity and to condemn all forms of discrimination, prejudice and racism.“

When asked what action they were taking, Aberdeen told us a range of things the university is doing. No new action has been announced to accompany the uni’s statement.

Birmingham

Birmingham posted a tweet highlighting the support available via Pause, Workplace Wellbeing or the Chaplaincy. The tweet said: “We stand with our community across the globe in opposing racism and discrimination. We offer our full support to anyone affected by these issues.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Bournemouth

Bournemouth released a statement after the death of George Floyd, saying: “We want our staff, students and the wider community to know that we are deeply committed to social justice and are working towards becoming a more inclusive university. We will be updating you all on the work that we are doing to achieve this aim.”

They continued: “In the meantime, we express our solidarity with all those in our local communities, our country and overseas who have been, and continue to be subject to prejudice.”

Bournemouth also tweeted out their contact details for students to get in touch about racial discrimination.

 

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Bristol

Bristol’s Executive team released a statement, saying: “We recognise that, as a University, we still have our own issues, and we are working hard to address these. Many of our Black students and staff feel isolation and discomfort as they experience daily microaggressions across campus. We encourage students and staff to report any incident of racial harassment and seek support from us. There is no place for racism at our University.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Brookes

A spokersperson from the university said: “We are committed to removing barriers to participation, inclusion and achievement for BAME students and staff. Our Race Equality Strategy, which sets out our objectives and activities up to 2022, is helping us to achieve this goal. The University takes a zero-tolerance approach to any form of harassment, hate incident, bullying or victimisation.”

They continued: “The Race Equality Strategy has been in place since 2017. Addressing racial inequalities and improving the representation, progression and success of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff and students remains a priority for Oxford Brookes. However, we recognise that we can do more and are speaking to our staff and student networks to build our plans even further.”

Brookes told us a range of things the university is doing. No new action has been announced to accompany the uni’s statement.

Cambridge

The only piece of support given from Cambridge was from Baroness Sally Morgan, Master of Fitzwilliam College.

In a statement released on 3rd June, Baroness Morgan outlined: “Last term, we created an Equality and Diversity working group. COVID delayed our first meeting, but it cannot wait. I will Chair this group, made up of students, staff and academics, and we will take an unflinching approach to the work ahead.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Cardiff

Cardiff released a statement, saying: “We understand the deep emotions and feelings this incident has surfaced, and would encourage any of our students or staff who have been affected by the situation to draw on the resources we provide, including our Race Equality Supervisory Panel, student support services; and for staff, Care First.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Coventry

After we contacted the university, Coventry said: “We firmly believe that education is a powerful force in ending discrimination and hatred. Coventry University Group is a diverse community of more than 150 nationalities and we have much to learn from each other.”

Whilst the statement pointed staff and students towards support services, the university did not reply to our questions.

Durham

Durham released a statement from Professor Antony Long, Deputy Vice Chancellor. It said: “We are working to build a safe, respectful and inclusive environment. Having signed the Race Equality Charter in March 2019, we are working to understand any institutional or cultural barriers that may stand in the way of BAME staff and students, and to improve the representation, progression and success of BAME staff and students within our University community.”

He continued: “We have also introduced an online Report and Support tool through which staff, students and visitors can report unwanted behaviour.”

When we contacted the university, Durham told us a range of things the university is doing. No new action has been announced to accompany the uni’s statement.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s statement said: “As a higher education institution, we want to be part of the solution. While much work has taken place in recent years to address these issues, we acknowledge our own historic and current failings in this area.”

The statement continued: “We will soon launch a community-led process of restorative and reparative justice, through which we will interrogate the role of the University in slavery and colonialism. Elsewhere, we are next week launching a cross-disciplinary hub, RACE.ED for research and teaching on race and ethnicity, which is the product of more than two years of academic work and engagement across our community.”

When we contacted the university, it confirmed none of this was new.

Exeter

A statement released by Exeter’s management highlighted their existing services for students and staff facing racial discrimination: “Our Speak Out Guardians and network of Dignity and Respect Advisors are available for any staff that may want to talk, alongside our Student Wellbeing service and ProCounselling, who are here to provide dedicated mental health support. ”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

The statement continued: “We would urge you to report any incidents of racism to the university using the Speak Out tool or to the police in the instance of a hate crime.”

Glasgow

Glasgow tweeted a post after the death of George Floyd, saying: “We are committed to promoting equality across our community”.

 

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Imperial

Imperial have released a Twitter thread outlining their commitments to tackling racial discrimination.

The thread highlighted that Imperial are encouraging more black students to apply to Imperial, and they are currently developing a new cohort programme for black students in secondary school years 10-13. This will launch in the next academic year.

Imperial also tweeted: “The statistics on Black staff at UK universities, especially at senior levels, are unacceptable. Our institution is no different and we have taken our first steps towards reversing this: we have committed to the Race Equality Charter and are working towards a full application in Jan 2021.”

Since we contacted the university, the news broke that it is getting rid of its “imperialist” Latin motto.

King’s

King’s Principal and KCLSU President posted a statement saying: “We state our commitment in our Vision 2029 to creating ‘an inclusive environment where all individuals are valued and able to succeed’. At King’s we have an obligation to condemn racism and have a zero tolerance to any form of racist or discriminatory behaviour.”

They continued: “You can also contact our counselling service and your personal tutor is also able to offer support.”

King’s also made a Twitter thread about how they have been tackling racial discrimination.

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Lancaster

Lancaster tweeted: “We used #BlackOutTuesday to pause our content and listen. We heard clearly that it’s not enough to be non-racist. We all must be anti-racist and actively stand together with our black staff and students. We’re committed to that fight and we know there is much for us to do.”

They continued: “This has been an incredibly traumatic time for some. Our own student and staff support services are here to support you. “

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Leeds

Leeds posted a Twitter thread concerning their existing efforts to tackle racial discrimination. The thread highlighted the progress of Leeds recruitment of BAME staff and students.

Leeds’ tweet also said: “We will soon launch our access and student success strategy – a five year outline of how we will address inequality across our student community. It also recognises the importance of staff diversity and how Black role models can enable others to succeed.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Liverpool

Professor Dame Janet Beer, Liverpool’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Important work has been undertaken in recent years to strive to meet these commitments – including our Equality Action Plan; becoming a member of Universities Studying Slavery to acknowledge and pledge to explore our own legacies; our ongoing work following signing the joint National Union of Students and Universities UK Closing the Gap pledge, which seeks to tackle the barriers to success faced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students.

“Mandatory equality and diversity training for all staff; online equality and diversity training for students; and reporting mechanisms for any student or staff member who encounters racial harassment in any form.”

In October, the university launched an inquiry to address racism and discrimination.

When we contacted the university what would be new as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, it said senior members of uni staff would be meeting with students and staff to hear their experiences and talk about measures which can be put in place.

LSE

LSE tweeted out their existing services available to students who are facing racial discrimination.

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Manchester

A statement from Professor Nalin Thakkar, Vice President for Social Responsibility was released. He said: “We monitor our policies and processes to prevent systemic racism and act where we see evidence of bias. We have a Report and Support mechanism in place where our community is able to raise issues.

“We are here to support anyone who has been affected by discrimination and our counselling and support services are available to all staff and students.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Newcastle

Newcastle’s Executive Board published a statement. They said: “Much important work is being undertaken, not least through our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff network, and through the leadership of our Students’ Union, and last year we became a member of the Race Equality Charter (REC) which was a milestone for us in terms of focussing our work to address racial inequalities.

“The REC is underpinned by five key principles and we are committed to embedding these principles in all our policies, procedures and practices that concern both colleagues and students.”

When we contacted the university, it confirmed none of this was new.

Nottingham

A spokesperson from Nottingham said: “The University has introduced measures such as anonymised applications; training for academics to address unconscious bias in the classroom; inclusive teaching practices; reverse-mentoring schemes; and work to decolonise the curriculum. We are also working to improve education to tackle racism and enhance our harassment reporting procedures.”

When we contacted the university, it confirmed none of this was new.

Oxford

Oxford said: “We’re committed to supporting our community in opposing racism in all its forms, including upholding anti-racist values.”

The university’s tweet also included their resources for equality and diversity.

When we contacted the university, it sent us a statement defending their decision not to publish their admissions data.

QUB

The principal of Queen’s said: “We must continue and strive to keep our shared humanity in focus and care for one another with respect and courage.

“That can only come from doing the work needed to fully understand the roots of anti-Black racism, acknowledging our biases and role in contributing to this problem, and standing up to its destructive forces to achieve fully a future in which everyone is treated equitably and with dignity.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary’s statement announced it would be setting up a BAME network at the uni, following pressure by students.

“A step I would like to take now is to set up a BAME network: led by the BAME community, for the BAME community, with the aim of bringing about positive change and giving our BAME community a voice. This new network should elect its own leader, and work with other existing groups as required,” wrote the uni’s president, Colin Bailey.

“It will have a champion in Sheila Gupta, our Vice-Principal for People, Culture and Inclusion.”

Sheffield

Sheffield tweeted: “We know we have a lot more to learn, a lot more to understand and, most importantly, a lot more to do to achieve a truly inclusive culture at Sheffield.”

A separate update was released from Susan Fitzmaurice, Chair of the Race Equality Steering Group, saying: “Our new wellbeing service offers 1-2-1 support to help students who are feeling down, overwhelmed or struggling with any aspect of life during these challenging times. Our Counselling Service offers confidential emotional support for students who need dedicated help. You can also visit Report + Support to report and access support about harassment and discrimination of any kind.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what new action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

Southampton

Southampton published a Twitter thread, highlighting their response to George Floyd’s death.

They said: “The University of Southampton stands firmly against racism and violence towards members of the black and minority ethnic community both at our University and across the globe.

“We recognise that racism and discrimination is not fleeting but has cultural roots, and through our Race Equality Charter we will continue to collaborate, challenge and proactively address racism.”

St Andrews

The St Andrews Twitter account posted a simple #BlackOutTuesday message.

When asked, the university did not tell us anything beyond this statement it was doing.

Sussex

Sussex tweeted: “We can’t ignore that structural racism exists in Higher Education – it’s real and requires actions not just words. We’ll continue to work to make sure that BAME staff and students are not disadvantaged here at Sussex.”

They continued: “We want to boost the work of @BAMESussex – a @USSU programme funded by the University. We want to make sure that BAME students are welcomed, supported and achieve at Sussex.”

UCL

UCL’s statement outlined a number of actions it will be taking on racial equality. It mentioned a specific focus on ensuring fair admissions from BAME backgrounds, supporting staff, and on closing the BAME attainment gap.

Whilst a UCL spokesperson confirmed these commitments pre-dated this week’s events, they did tell The Tab: “We are putting £250k dedicated funding towards eliminating the BAME attainment gap.”

UEA

UEA’s statement emphasised that: “UEA stands in solidarity with all of our BAME students and staff at this difficult time.”

It mentioned that the uni’s Vice Chancellor chairs a national advisory group which will be producing guidance on how to tackle racial harassment at university.

However, UEA did not respond to our questions about other action it will be taking.

Warwick

Warwick posted a tweet saying: “We support #BlackLivesMatter BAME students, staff, offer holders, & racial justice. We are committed to living by our principles & values, which includes not tolerating any form of racism & to making changes institutionally to create a culture of anti-racism & dignity for all.”

The university did not reply when we asked it what action it’s taking to combat racism and promote equality.

York

York’s Vice Chancellor posted a statement saying he shares students’ outrage at the killing of George Floyd, adding: “We are committed to creating an environment which is safe, inclusive and welcoming for everyone.”

It shared the university’s Dignity at Work and Study policy, which offers support for anyone experiencing or witnessing hate. It also stressed the university’s new report and support tool for reporting harassment and hate incidents.

When we contacted the university, it confirmed none of this was new.

Featured image credit: SWNS