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Sheffield University launches new scheme to combat racism

Written by National, News

The University of Sheffield has announced that they are planning to introduce ‘Race Equality Champions’, a scheme which involves recruiting a squad to help train selected students to combat “subtle” racism.

The roles of these recruits will be to help students develop skills to challenge “microaggressions”

The recruits will be paid £9.34 per hour and work between two to nine hours per week. The roles of these recruits will be to help students develop skills to challenge “microaggressions”, which are defined as subtle but offensive comments or actions directed at black and minority ethnic (BAME) people, which are often unintentionally offensive. All of Sheffield’s students will be encouraged to attend the sessions.

There have been many racist incidents which have occurred on university campuses, especially in recent years. The issue has become so serious that some UK universities are drawing up guidance on addressing racial harassment. In 2018, a law society was disbanded at Exeter University after a screenshot emerged of racist messages posted in its WhatsApp group, including some comments about slavery. Some people further argue that UK academia is pervaded by more subtle institutional racism, which limits the prospects of BME students and staff. Of the 154 higher education institutions in this country, only three are led by Vice Chancellors from a BAME background.

Critics have accused the University of Sheffield of setting up a self-appointed “woke police”

Critics have accused the University of Sheffield of setting up a self-appointed “woke police”, which regulates language on campus. As a result, the role has been met with allegations of “snooping and spying”. This view has been spread by an article in ‘The Post Millennial’, which says that, because the students who are members of the ‘Race Equality Champions’ are getting paid to “snitch” on their peers, the university is encouraging a “snitch culture”. They have hailed this scheme as “authoritarian and crazy”, and even go as far as comparing it to some of the worst dictators known in history, who used citizens to report on one another, under threat of punishment if they refused. The article also claims that this supposed “monetised McCarthyism” is dividing students and pitting them against each other, and so rather than dealing with racism on campus, it “buries it where it can fester”.

Last modified: 12th February 2020

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