Newcastle University’s Student Union has launched a campaign to tackle issues of hate crime incidents on campus. This comes as part of the “Changing the Culture” project, set up by Newcastle University in response to a 2016 report by Universities UK. The report examined violence against women, harassment and hate crime, and issued recommendations to UK universities.
According to official government statistics, in 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% compared with the previous year. An analysis of government statistics by The Independent in June 2018 found that the number of incidents reported in Universities has increased by 60% in two years. Incidents at Russell Group Universities, including Newcastle University, were included in their report.
Newcastle’s Student Union says that they hope to create a campaign to enact positive and tangible change on campus, using the experiences of Newcastle Students themselves. They define hate crime as any act that causes alarm or distress to an individual or group, motivated by prejudice. This may be prejudice against a student’s gender, religion, nationality, class, sexuality, disability or race.
Next week the Students Union is holding listening forums where students can share their own experiences. The University hopes this will provide the campaign with a better perspective on the issues that Newcastle Students face, in order to create an effective campaign in response.
Jack Green, Newcastle University’s Welfare Officer, explains: “Hate crimes can happen anywhere. The purpose of these forums is to find out from students about incidents that occur during their time at University, whether it was while out in Newcastle or even whilst on campus. We can then use this information to tailor: support, education and a campaign; to ensure that we can proactively tackle hate crime incidents that effect our students. A hate crime is motivated by prejudice, and as a Students’ Union it is our job to protect our students, but also to educate our students who may be the perpetrators of these crimes. Many students may not realise what that their actions constitute as a hate crime incident.”
There will be four sessions taking place; on November 26th at 2pm, November 27th 10am, November 28th 5pm and November 29th 12 noon. The sessions will all be held in The Lounge in the Students Union.
For those that cannot attend the forums, the Student Union has also posted an online form for students to highlight their own experiences at Newcastle University. The Students Union will not respond to submissions but will use the examples to help create their campaign.
Newcastle University fourth-year Grace Dean believes the NUSU is taking a step in the right direction.
“As a member of the Newcastle student body, I want all my fellow students to feel safe in this city. The fact that NUSU is proactively taking steps to counter hate crime in the city is a very positive development and I hope these campaigns are as effective as they promise to be.
“Support & acceptance are key components to the NUSU ideology. I am glad they are thus taking these positive steps to drive out hate crime from the city.”
The online form can be found at www.nusu.co.uk/changingtheculture.