Edinburgh Uni releases statement in response to student outrage promising to tackle racism

“We hear you, and will continue to listen”

The University of Edinburgh have released a statement regarding tackling racism at the Uni and specifically addressing the case of the death of George Floyd.

As part of Blackout Tuesday, Edinburgh Uni took to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to share their thoughts and express their solidarity with the Black students, staff and community at the University.

Edinburgh University posted a picture of a black square with the following caption, “#BlackOutTuesday: We stand together with our Black students, staff and Black communities worldwide and will continue to support actions to end discrimination in all forms, including in our own institution. We’re here to support you at this disturbing time. If you are struggling, please get in touch with our Advice Place ➡️ eusa.ed.ac.uk/advice”.

Following several black Edinburgh students writing an open letter to Peter Mathieson asking him and the University to stand in solidarity with black and POC students, the Uni have released the following statement. 

“As a University community we are outraged by the brutal killing of George Floyd. Our thoughts are with Mr Floyd and his family. Mr Floyd’s death is one more example of the senseless loss of yet another black life as a result of societal and systemic racism. Those responsible must be held accountable. While we recognise this to have happened in the US, the responsibility to address racism and to treat each other with dignity, respect and compassion is as applicable here in the UK.

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.

We are completely committed to addressing and confronting racism and discrimination, in all its forms, whenever and wherever it occurs. We will do so by listening and learning from Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff and students in the University community.

Our recent internal review into the experiences of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities showed us that there is much more we could and should be doing to tackle structural forms of racism and discrimination. We are beginning to implement the findings from these reports, and will continue to listen to, engage with and act on feedback from our BAME students, colleagues and wider communities.

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. We will develop a fuller, more critical global history of our institution.

We will also address the issue of racism within educational programmes. We will seek to pluralise teaching and learning and to embed culturally relevant pedagogy by critically examining our work from a decolonial perspective. We want our graduates to be able to live, work and lead in a complex and diverse world.

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.  This hub brings together academics and students to explore issues of racism and be part of a University network taking forward anti-racist initiatives within our University.

However, these are just the initial steps in what needs to be a fundamental change in the way institutions such as ours think about and confront such major societal problems.”

Principal and VC Peter Mathieson also added, “I do believe that the University has a clear role to play in tackling racism.  The problems we have, like those in wider society, are significant and deep rooted therefore will take time and commitment to improve.  We are at the early stages of this work but my senior team and I are fully committed to making progress and to harness the expertise of staff and students to mitigate racism and inequality in our society.”

They close their statement on the Instagram post with the message, “To everyone who has contacted us so far, we hear you and will continue to listen.”

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