Friday, 05 June 2020
A statement from Vice-Chancellor Shearer West and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Sarah Sharples
You will all be aware of the significant events that have taken place this week in response to the killing of George Floyd. These events have had a significant and distressing impact on our black students and staff, and brought into stark focus the persistent presence and impact of racism in our global society.
We would like to take this opportunity to offer our support to all of our students and staff who are experiencing distress, anger and upset. We also recognise that racism affects many groups within society, and within the BME student population, in different ways.
At the University, we have made a strong and meaningful commitment to inclusivity. The response that we have heard from our student groups this week has told us that we are not doing well enough to ensure that all of our students feel included or listened to, we have not been working quickly enough, and that we have not been open enough about the work that is already taking place.
We are very proud of the diversity within our student population across all of our global University campuses. We aim to embrace and celebrate this diversity. But we should also work to understand the different ways that our diverse population experiences life as a member of society, and recognise that world events will inevitably impact people differently.
It is the responsibility of all of us, no matter what our ethnicity, race or religion, to work together to understand how best to work to be anti-racist. We have supported our colleagues to ensure they take the time to listen to any concerns that any students raise regarding racism and inclusion, and to work together to build responses that are long-lasting and impactful.
In our response to an open letter which we received from a number of student groups, we have also outlined the actions that we have already been taking to support inclusion of BME students within our University, and we look forward to talking to students to focus on how we can do more. We have also published education and support resources which we hope can help you to learn what you can do to respond to the current situation, and to work in the future to confront and respond to bias and to discrimination.
It can be very easy to write words, and can be much harder to deliver actions. It is also important that we do not feel alone. One of the things that the past few months have shown us is that university is not just about being situated in the same place. It is about our community, and the people within it.
Professor Shearer West Professor Sarah Sharples
President and Vice-Chancellor Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion