We can’t ignore racism at university. These stories prove it’s alive and well
‘They’d say ‘Typical Chinks’ – this is the racism I have to live with’
Two weeks ago, we broke the news of students being racist to other students. They were sent snapchats of monkey noises, being called a “shitflinger” in a public Facebook post and yelled at in the street by fellow students at the University of Bristol. Our story resulted in national BBC coverage and a formal investigation by the university. As part of our special report on campus racism, we spoke to students around the country of five different races, whose stories show that it is an unrelenting problem at our universities. You can read the original story here.
One of the most striking elements of the story was that none of the three victims had felt able to approach the university or that when they had done in the past the help was not sufficient.
To help student victims of racism come out with their stories, we asked students from all over the country to send in their stories anonymously.
These are a small handful of the stories that we found.
One day I decided to pick up a dozen packets of instant ramen at the Guild Shop. After I made my purchase and stuffed all of the ramen into my backpack, I walked into the courtyard. Unfortunately, me being my clumsy self, I tripped over and fell.
My backpack burst open and a dozen instant ramen packets slid out across the floor for all to see. Nobody came to my aid. Instead, a bunch of students started giggling and I heard horrible comments amongst the laughter.
“Chinese international student”, “Damn Asians” and “Typical chinks” were a few examples I heard.
This is racism I have to live with.
I was walking through campus one evening when two strangers came up to me and called me a Paki.
I calmly replied saying I’m not Pakistani and there was no need to be racist. This was met with anger and one guy took it upon himself to start calling me a bitch and ran after me. Luckily, I saw two girls and went up to them for support. They then stayed with me until the angry guys left.
It is shocking that this kind of thing can still happen in 21st century England while on a university campus.
It was towards the end of a night out and as we were hungry we decided to go to a chip shop. As soon as we walked in, a group of white male shouted at my black female friend “Oh look, it’s Barak Obama.”
Although one of them kept apologising for his friends, the jeering continued and we were eventually forced to leave the shop.
I am an engineering student of Indian descent who has experienced racism from his course mates. Whenever we have group projects to do all the White British students purposefully avoid being placed in a group with me.
On multiple occasions, they have refused to use my Indian name or called me by different names because of my skin colour.
The constant attacks are making university a painful experience.
We also received this testimony from Reading, where a white student felt they were being victimised by Malaysian and Chinese students for their race.
“I am in fresher halls. Due to the racist outlook of people in my flat I have felt uncomfortable throughout the whole year. They treat me like an outsider and do not talk to me. Because of this I have ended up spending as little time as humanly possible in halls, with any time I spent there being shut in my room and avoiding common areas.
“It was horrendous, and I cannot believe that the university staff chose to ignore it and allowed it to continue.
“At one point another student in my flat said to my face “you all look the same to me”. I did not report this because of how unresponsive the university administration have been.
“A final note – I am White British. My flat in halls are predominantly Malaysian and Chinese students.”
These stories highlight that people of various ethnicities can be victims of racist abuse at university. The fact that none of these happenings were successfully dealt with by their respective university’s authorities shows a worrying trend.
It seems that, as the UK’s universities accept students from a wide variety of regions and backgrounds, some students will not have grown up in multicultural environments. They then take the preconceptions they have acquired about other races to Uni and act upon them in malicious ways.
To counter this problem, we must address some important questions. Why do most people not feel able to come for help when these pressing issues affect their lives? Why, in the few instances when help is asked for, do the people with the power to make change happen do nothing? How can we educate those who hold regressive beliefs and bridge over the divisions that are present on every university campus?
The first step is to bring student racism out of the dark for all to see.