Schools Training

How widespread is racism at uni?

14 MAR 2014

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“You do know they only accepted you because you’re black?” reads a placard that forms part of the “I, too, am Oxford” campaign.

This week students have been raising awareness about the often overlooked issue of racial prejudice on campus. It started with Harvard’s“I, too, am Harvard” photo project that went viral on social media.

Students at Oxford and Cambridge then followed suit, and drew attention to issues on their own campuses.

Those at Oxford say they want to “demonstrate that despite there being a greater number of students of colour studying at Oxford now than there has ever been before, there are still issues that need to be discussed.”

They say they are “demanding that a discussion on race be taken seriously and that real institutional change occur”.

Other comments those in the campaign had heard were: “Where are you really from?” and “I was pleasantly surprised you actually speak well”.

So how much of a problem is racism on campus?

In 2011, a report by the National Union of Students (NUS) found that one in six black students had experienced racism at their institution, and one third did not trust their university to handle complaints properly.

A report at the University of York this week revealed that one in ten students and workers on campus felt they had experienced some form of discrimination because of their race or ethnic background.

One in four from outside the EU said they felt discriminated against because of their race and half of respondents said they had witnessed racism happening to others. The kind of discrimination experienced included being stereotyped and treated differently.

Zena, a student who wishes to be known only by her first name, says: “I constantly have to deal with things like offensive racist ‘banter’ from white students, or assumptions on the basis of my ethnicity. And it’s difficult to report it to support services.

“I commonly hear: ‘where are you really from’, as if the fact that I am ethnically Arabic must mean that I am lying about being a British citizen. It is difficult to know how to deal with comments like this, as I doubt any university would take a complaint seriously.”

The University of York report covered in York Vision student paper, revealed that 79% of students who had experienced racism did not report it.


Read full article: The Guardian