Brunel University London has become one of the first UK institutions to publicly pledge its support for Universities UK’s new call for cross-sector action against racism on campus.
The pledge follows a new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which found that across UK universities around a quarter of students from an ethnic minority background have experienced some form of racial harassment since starting their course.
“All higher education providers must study this report’s findings and recommendations and take urgent action,” said Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel.
“There is no place for racial harassment on a university campus, or anywhere else – and I find it sad and shocking how many people are still subject to it. Universities must be places where all students and staff are able to flourish and we must intensify our work to ensure this happens.”
The EHRC report – Tackling racial harassment: Universities challenged – was based on a nationwide survey of 845 students and 571 members of staff, and a series of roundtable discussions and interviews. It found that 24% of ethnic minority students and 9% of white students reported being subject to racial abuse during their studies, whilst male students were twice as likely to have experienced racial harassment than female students.
Meanwhile, over half of the university staff surveyed across the UK described incidents of being ignored or excluded because of their race, with 15% saying racial harassment had previously caused them to leave their job.
The report makes a series of recommendations for universities, including being more transparent about how they are tackling racism and ensuring clear systems are in place for students and staff to report incidences of racial abuse.
Prof Buckingham said: “Universities UK will today be urgently seeking independent, external expertise to strengthen our new group on tackling racial harassment to advise universities on effective actions and how to scrutinise and challenge action plans.
“And I am calling on my fellow university leaders to make this a top priority, starting by committing publicly to taking urgent action in their institution and ensuring staff and students know how to report incidents and how to access the support available to them.”
Students and staff at Brunel are encouraged to report every incidence of racial harassment, with various systems already in place.
Students facing abuse should use Brunel’s Report and Support system, a facility for raising a variety of issues, including racial harassment and bullying, and with signposting to available support. Incidences can be reported in person or anonymously, with the university investigating and taking appropriate action in every case. Brunel recently updated its Student Bullying and Harassment Policy, with the new policy due to come into force in the coming months following approval from the university senate.
STUDENTS: To report harassment, visit https://reportandsupport.brunel.ac.uk/
All reports are made in confidence and can be made anonymously or in person
If a member of staff feels like they are being harassed or abused, they should contact one of Brunel’s trained anti-harassment advisers for support, or get in touch with the HR team. Brunel’s Dignity at Work Policy was recently updated and is available to all staff through the university’s intranet.
STAFF: To report harassment, speak to an anti-harassment advisor or the HR team. Details are available through the staff intranet.
All reports are made in complete confidence.
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