Newcastle University tackles racial discrimination and harassment

Victoria Osho reports on Newcastle University's response to Racial Harassment report

Victoria Osho
11th November 2019
Image: @newcastleuni on Instagram
Last week, Newcastle university doubled down on their efforts to tackle racial discrimination and hate crimes at the university by writing a response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's inquiry report 'Tackling Racial Harassment: Universities Challenged.'

The report, published on the 23rd October, presented the findings of the Commision's inquiry into racial harassment in publicly funded universities in England, Scotland and Wales. They collected much of the data from university surveys, roundtable discussions, interviews with universities, students and staff, as well as a public call for evidence. The report also offers recommendations for change.

In Newcastle University's response, it clearly stated the efforts undertaken by the university to tackle racial discrimination and violence between university students.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, Professor Julie Sanders, has special responsibility for the University's work and commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the Engagement and Place sub-strategy including its focus on social justice.

She commented on the EHRC inquiry, saying:

"There is no place for racism or racial harassment of any kind in our universities and here at Newcastle we have been working closely with both staff and students in a number of areas to emphasise our values of inclusion and respect.

“Our University has a long-standing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and much work has already been undertaken by our staff and students, and not least through our Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff network. Earlier this year, we became a member of the Race Equality Charter which was a milestone for us in terms of our work to address racial inequalities."

However,  the response admits that more still needs to be done before the campus can ensure a 100% discrimination free environment, as professor Julie Sanders says “we are not complacent and today’s report, which we very much welcome, illustrates how much more needs to be done to overcome and address these issues”.

Sanders explains further actions the university are taking to tackle racial discrimination and harrassment:

“We have set clear targets in our Access and Participation Plan to close the attainment gap for BAME students and we have appointed a dedicated Race Equality Advisor to work with both our staff and students.

“We have just completed a survey of all academic and professional services colleagues and next month we will be conducting a survey of all students, the results of which will form the basis of a new Race Equality Strategy and Action Plan for the University.  And recently, our BAME staff network has conducted listening sessions with our staff and has compiled a report that is being considered by our Equality Diversity and Inclusion committee in order to prioritise meaningful actions."

Further acts mentioned by Sanders, include the recentley implemented 'Report and Support' System, which allows students and staff to anononymously report any form of harrassment; as well as the preparation of a Hate Crime Video, in partnership with Northumbria Police, partners and other universities, to be used at student and staff inductions. The university is also working with Newcastle City Countil to promote the 24 hour helpline, 'Stop Hate Crime UK.'

The response ended, saying, “The University is determined to work with all our partners across the higher education sector and we will be carefully reviewing the findings of today’s report to ensure our students and staff can have confidence that they study, work and live in a safe and inclusive environment.”

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