Tackling Racism and Diversity Issues at Durham University
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Admitting the Problem
Durham University, as an institution, needs to accept and admit that they have problems with diversity and racism. Publishing a #blackouttuesday post in response to the George Floyd tragedy means nothing if they refuse to acknowledge and work on the racist issues within the University.
Black Caribbean and African populations total just 1.1% of the University’s student population. This compares to statistics from the 2011 census indicating that up to 4% of Britain’s young population identifies as Black Caribbean or African.
Durham University should introduce an outreach program directed towards black state school students across England, encouraging and supporting them to apply to study at the University.
Number of Complaints Made in the Past
According to a Guardian Article from July 2019, in the five academic years leading up to the article’s publication, Durham only received three complaints regarding race, of which only one was upheld. This figure clearly does not reflect the true number of racist events that occurred in this period. A large number of students would testify as such. The University should be actively encouraging students to come forward with anything racist they have witnessed.
The Hate Crime Project
The Hate Crime Project was a step in the right direction in trying to stem racist incidents at Durham University, with the set-up of the ‘Report + Support’ website, however this website is largely unheard of among Durham students. As aforementioned, the University should be actively encouraging people to use this tool – it is not enough for it to just exist.
Durham University is also yet to publish any details or statistics to do with the reports from ‘Report + Support’, and any consequent actions that has been taken following investigations. Such statistics should be publicly available and updated regularly.
It should also not be the only method through which the University combats racism. Durham University should be vigilant, and actively seek out to combat racism wherever it shows up amongst its University population.
The Durham SU President-Elect, Seun Twins, was subjected to repeated racially-motivated attacks online. Many other people were also subjected to racially-motivated verbal attacks on the ‘Durfess’ platform on Facebook. Despite the platform being formally unaffiliated with the University, it seems unlikely that the University is unaware of the controversy, yet has done nothing to respond to these incidents. The University should be vigilant in tackling racism. The University should take the initiative to battle racism amongst its students and staff, wherever it presents itself, and not just act when a formal complaint is made.
One insightful Twitter thread detailing recent racist (and other prejudicial) events is linked below. The thread also links to other individuals’ testimonies.
No one (as of 03/06/2020), as far as the information that is publicly available shows, has ever been expelled from Durham University for expressing racial hatred, despite the fact that racism is an enormous issue at the University. The University should adopt a true zero-tolerance attitude towards racial hate. A full investigation should be launched into every report. Anyone found beyond reasonable doubt to be expressing racial hatred should be permanently expelled from the University.
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