Staff And Students Frustrated By 'Denial' Of Racism On Uni Campuses
Kings College London
London, United Kingdom - June 26, 2016: An editorial photo of Kings College London. Photographed using the Canon EOS 5DSR.

Staff And Students Frustrated By 'Denial' Of Racism On Uni Campuses

Ellen Knight May 31, 2022

University staff and students have been left feeling frustrated with the denial there is racism on campuses.

MPs have been informed by student leaders and academics of the frustration felt by many at the lack of tangible action taken to tackle ‘ingrained institutional racism’ affecting black students and staff on university campuses, according to the Guardian.

The committee of MPs was told that instances of racism had been ‘so upsetting and so traumatic and so shocking’ that some black academics had gotten to the point where they’d considered taking their own lives.

‘Systematic, ongoing undermining and patronising behaviour’

Professor Nicola Rollock, who is a professor of social policy and race at King’s College London (KCL), told the Guardian that racism in academia has been ‘trivialised beyond belief’ in reports from the media.

She added: ‘We are not talking about a single, one-off, isolated incident but women and other colleagues across the sector have been subjected to, and continue to be subjected to, sets of systematic behaviours that undermine and exclude colleagues of colour over a period of time.

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A view of the courtyard of Kings College in London, England. This college was established in 1829 by King GeorgeIV

‘In other contexts that would be described as bullying. In other contexts it would described as abuse. But because the topic is one of racism it is relegated to the sidelines.’

Professor Rollock is a renowned expert on the study of the careers of black women in academia and emphasised: ‘I want to be absolutely clear, when we are talking about everyday racism, we are not talking about the odd raising of an eyebrow or the odd slight.

‘We are talking about systematic, ongoing undermining and patronising behaviour that comes under the banner of everyday racism.’

‘We are not just dependent on goodwill’

The University of East Anglia’s (UEA) vice-chancellor, David Richardson, supported Rollock’s words, noting that this institutional racism was the main reason for the ‘attainment gap’ between black students and their white peers.

Richardson told the Guardian: ‘My view is that we need to move on from that debate and actually progress with dismantling that institutional racism.

‘It’s been 15 years or longer that there’s been a 20% degree-awarding gap at institutions, and in that time that awarding gap has not diminished.’

He added: ‘I think we just have not taken the time to address these covert issues that are impacting students from black, Asian and minority backgrounds and leading to those degree awarding gaps.’

Professor Rollock concurred, noting; ‘If we are to move forward in a meaningful way – and some colleagues may see this as controversial but I see it as necessary – then we will have to consider the levers that are going to actually encourage, or perhaps force, change.

‘And we are not just dependent on goodwill, more reports or individual commitments.’

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Ellen is a freelance journalist studying MA Broadcast Journalism at Cardiff University. Her work has appeared in publications such as Teen Vogue and Al Jazeera, and tends to focus on politics and current affairs. Her involvement in student radio station Burn FM lead to an interview she conducted winning Student Radio Moment of the Year in 2022. She has been writing for Freshered since February 2022. You can follow her on Twitter @ellenmjknight