Tackling racial harassment in higher education: Universities UK’s latest report

You may or may not be aware that On the 24th November 2020, Universities UK (the body that represents UK’s universities) published a report titled Tackling racial harassment in higher education 

This was followed by Durham University’s Vice Chancellor and Warden responded to the report in an email to all staff and students on the day of its publication.

The report details numerous recommendations aimed at effectively tackling racial harassment, as part of a larger effort to investigate and overcome racial inequality in higher education.

To save you from reading the whole report (although I encourage everyone to have a look at what they can) I’ve included and summarised some of the key recommendations below which are practical steps recommended for all university leaders to implement immediately: 

  • To publicly commit priority status to tackling racial harassment
  • Direct engagement with staff and students lived experience of racial harassment
  • Conduct a review of current policies and procedures whilst also working towards developing new strategies for tackling racial harassment
  • Increase and improve awareness and understanding of racism, racial harassment, white privilege and micro-aggressions among all staff and students, including through anti-racist training 
  • Clear communication to all staff and students of expected standards for online behaviour with reference to sanctions for breaches 
  • To develop and introduce reporting systems for incidents of racial harassment
  • Collection of data on reports of incidents that are subsequently shared regularly with senior staff and governing bodies 

What do you make of the recommendations? Do they go far enough and which of the bullet points outlined above have you seen already existent at Durham or other university institutions? The first step to meaningful change must be engagement with such reports, findings and recommendations. We all have our part to play and staying informed can really help to take an active approach towards such issues on campus.

I think awareness is a key part of any kind of movement or pledge towards change, as the more people and perspectives involved in conversations about change, the more momentum that can be built. If you’ve ever felt like you can’t make a difference or your voice won’t add much, then let me share with you one of my favourite quotes If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.’ – The Dalai Lama

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