I’m campaigning for all unis to spell out how they’ll actually tackle racism

Osaro Otobo faced a complaint whilst SU president for using the word ‘black’

A former SU president whose experience of systemic racism left her feeling “isolated and alone” has launched a campaign to ensure unis spell out how they’ll actually tackle racism

Osaro Otobo, who was president of Hull SU, is campaigning for all registered organisations – unis, but also charities and public and private sector organisations – to make public how they’ll investigate racism.

Her petition has gained 1,400 signatures, and Osaro says: “I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.”

In an article for The Tab, Osaro wrote how she faced a complaint for using the word ‘black’ whilst SU president, and grew frustrated with the lack of public support from colleagues.

“The whole experience left me wishing at times that I didn’t speak up about it, that maybe I should have just resigned so I would not have to work in such a toxic environment that did not protect ethnic minorities well enough,” she wrote.

In response to the claims, Hull SU apologised and told The Tab is it “committed to actively eradicating all forms of racism, inequality and discrimination.”

However, Osaro wants to ensure her experience doesn’t happen again.

“Too often the process of complaining about discrimination is not clear, transparent or accessible,” she says.

Her campaign aims to force unis, as well as public sector companies, private sector companies, charities, and any registered organisation to have a visible policy on how they’ll tackle reports of racism and discrimination.

So far, 1,400 people have signed the petition.

“Under the Equality Act 2010 it is not a legal requirement for all workplaces and other organisations to have a policy visibly in place detailing what the procedure for reviewing reports of racism and other forms of discrimination is,” says Osaro.

Osaro believes they should make public the timescale for investigations, how people can safely report incidents, and an outline of how organisations will actually document proceedings

“People and organisations often talk about valuing diversity yet unfortunately for many it is just empty words as when the time comes to take action against discrimination they hesitate, delay and eventually drop the ball,” Osaro told The Tab.

“This can result in devastating consequences for the person on the receiving end of discrimination. It can impact on both the mental and physical health of the individual. It can leave you feeling like your lived experience is not valid and you are not protected in that space.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through. I also wanted to make sure that a positive change came out of my experience.”

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