The shocking and senseless death of George Floyd has been felt across the world. The reactions of anger, outrage and protest speak volumes about the injustice, institutionalised racism and inequality faced by Black people.
Following the University’s statement expressing solidarity with our Black students, staff and wider community last week, we have reflected on how we can address, challenge and dismantle racism and inequality in our community. Those of us in positions of privilege have a particular responsibility and as a University we recognise that. We cannot simply state we are ‘against racism’, we must be visibly anti-racist, and dedicate ourselves to action.
As a University, we will have to listen, learn and commit to change to improve what we do to ensure a more equitable experience and welcoming environment for our Black students. This means actively supporting Black students through a range of initiatives and activities and, as an institution, playing our part in addressing systemic inequities. Following recommendations emerging from the Students’ Union anti-racism forum on Monday, we will be working with university staff and the SU to ensure that actions are taken and to monitor progress in the future. We acknowledge that we have a long way to go, but working together we will ensure that our commitment to become anti-racist goes beyond words and affects change across all areas of the University, including training and awareness, representation, recruitment and attainment, learning and teaching and student wellbeing.
All of us have a responsibility to do all we can to ensure that work to challenge and dismantle racism continues and that it brings long term, not superficial, change. We must all work to break down barriers, go beyond our comfort zones, and ask ourselves difficult questions. There is no defence for discrimination and racism and no place for them at this University. Nor is there any justification of ignorance. As part of a community, we all need to reach out and support each other in new and different ways.
If you have been particularly affected by these events, please do not hesitate to ask for support. You may want to talk to your personal tutor or Director of Studies, but please also remember that we have excellent support from both Student Services and the Students’ Union. We encourage all our students to report instances of racism and discrimination through our Report and Support website.
Although we have been appalled by recent events, both of us have been inspired by the reaction of many people across the world as we are sure you have too. We will both be working with students, staff and the SU to identify how we ensure the University is safe, caring, equitable, and a place that belongs to everyone.
Peter & Cassie