Guest blog by Andy Winter, Campus Life Director
The idealised vision of a University is of an intellectual utopia where the focus is on learning and the development and exchange of knowledge. This pursuit supersedes and erodes any concern or prejudice the community may have towards the identities and backgrounds of their fellow scholars.
Unfortunately, we know that this isn’t the reality and that universities are subject to the same prejudices that pervade our broader society. On- and off-campus issues of harassment and discrimination on the basis of personal characteristics do raise their heads, and students from different backgrounds report negative experiences.
Inclusivity and respect are core values of the University of Nottingham and to ensure we are working towards these we have launched the No Place for Hate campaign. Building on the work of our Stronger Together and Community Standards initiatives, No Place for Hate has two specific aims - to let people state clearly their opposition to harassment and hate, but also to educate each other on these issues.
While it may seem obvious to some what a hate incident looks like, to others it’s not clear how these manifest themselves. Terms like ‘antisemitism’ and ‘islamophobia’ are used regularly in the media, but what do they actually look like? Would you recognise a microaggression if you observed one? When does ‘banter’ or ‘robust academic debate’ become harassment and who judges that?
We want to explore these issues and be clear with each other that it’s okay not to be an expert on everything, as long as you are open to learning and changing your behaviour. It’s a chance to ask the questions you’ve never felt comfortable asking, and to do so without judgement.
You’ll find lots of content on our social media channels, along with resources and support services on the No Place for Hate campaign webpage. We encourage both staff and students to get involved, and to share resources in meetings, seminars and social gatherings.
As we say in the campaign, it doesn’t have to be a hate crime to hurt, so being able to identify a range of issues makes it easier to challenge inappropriate behaviours and hold others to account. None of us are perfect but together we can build a better, more inclusive, more supportive University.
Campus Life Director
16 March 2020