Warwick issues letter to Cultural and Liberation Societies following campaigns on colonialism

Students will be able to report incidents of racism through a new ‘Report and Support’ system

Warwick University has issued a letter today to the Cultural and Liberation Societies, outlining the university’s work to support its black and ethnic minority students. This follows the publication of an open letter signed by six university societies and prominent SU officials in July, and the campaign launched last week, #RenameRadcliffe, to rename a conference centre on campus.

The letter addresses the issues raised by students in their open letter demanding “to see a tangible difference in how the University operates”.

“Dear Cultural and Liberation Societies,

“Thank you for your recent communication laying out your concerns about the experience of black students and the pace of progress towards achieving an even more anti-racist University.  We unreservedly recognise the importance of the issues that you raise and share your goal of achieving a University which is anti-racist in every aspect.

“In our response, we would like to share with you the work we are actively engaged in, which we hope demonstrates our commitment and ambitions.”

The University proceeded to outline the initiatives they are taking to “re-iterate our commitment to achieving racial equality for our students and staff”.

The letter does not comment on the ‘#RenameRadcliffe’ campaign, with Warwick stating there was no further statement at this time.

Points raised in the letter included:

• A new ‘Report and Support’ system from August 2020 where students can report incidents of racism

The university is in the process of appointing specialist staff who are “skilled at understanding and supporting students who are experiencing racism”

To support incidents of racism in the meantime, the letter directs students to the Wellbeing Support Services hate crime page.

• Reviewing the role descriptions for all campus security staff

There will be an “explicit reference to demonstrating cultural and diversity awareness while carrying out their duties”. The letter also “welcomed the opportunity of working with the SU” to have students representing black and ethnic minority communities reviewing Campus Security policies and procedures, and taking part in campus security officer recruitment panels.

• Funding the “development of a comprehensive anti-racist training programme”

It will be based on “critical race theory and the history of racism”, and the university stated that “continuing impact today is a central theme”.

Warwick also highlighted their anti-racist resources and training which they “continue to develop”.

The letter also drew attention to the numerous sessions, training and webinars they had provided to staff and senior leaders, and committed to continuing “to work with senior leaders over the coming year with further workshops on inclusive leadership”.

• De-colonisation of the curriculum

The work, carried out by the SU, was funded by the University. The letter acknowledged that they had “just received a report providing an update and recommendations” and that they would respond “once we have had an opportunity to review them”.

The University also stated that they were in the process of organising workshops to share the results and “develop an approach that embeds de-colonisation into curriculum design and classroom culture across all faculties.

“To further support and develop the skills of teaching staff we are holding regular sessions on anti-racist teaching practices, facilitated by WIHEA anti-racist pedagogy learning circle.”

• Working on black, asian and minority ethnic representation in staff

The University highlighted multiple works to improve fair representation in staff, including publishing data on the ethnicity pay gap and a revised academic promotions process that has “doubled the number of black, asian and minority ethnic appointments at senior academic levels”.

“We are addressing recruitment and selection practices in particular to address issues of black, asian and minority ethnic representation at senior levels.

“We are continuing to explore and implement interventions that will help us to build on this small but significant progress.”

• The Race Equality Task group

The group is “comprised of academics, students and professional service staff who bring personal and professional experience and understanding of racism to our approach to becoming anti-racist University”.

“A significant number of students receiving Warwick Scholarships identify as being black but we are aware that not all black students fall into this category and that a more holistic approach is required for a successful student experience,” said Warwick.

The letter stated that the Race Equality Task group drives and monitors their work towards this and other parts of the University’s work.

They are also overseeing the work to make a submission for the Race Charter, which is described by Warwick as “an opportunity to undertake a systematic review of the university’s current performance on anti-racist practice”.

• The University’s Social Inclusion Strategy

Progress on the Strategy goals, which “categorically makes race equality a priority”, are reported to the Social Inclusion Committee and the University Council. The letter states that a number of groups, including the Student Liaison University group and Student Learning Experience and Engagement Committee, work to ensure that this agenda “continues to be developed and embedded within systems and culture across the University”.

The University ended the letter by reiterating their “commitment to achieving racial equality for our students and staff.

“We look forward to continuing a positive and proactive approach with our student community.”

Feature image credited to SWNS.

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