Cardiff University handed recommendations for improvement following race row

By Gabriella Mansell

Police were called to investigate allegations of racial hate following ‘Anaphylaxis’, a play performed by third year medical students, which saw a student ‘black up’ to impersonate one of their lecturers.

The play led to several formal complaints from students of an African heritage. The complaints drew attention to the incident leading Cardiff University to launch its own internal investigation with a panel chaired by Prof Dinesh Bhugra of King’s College London.

The report, which was published last week led to the suspension of 32 students from their clinical practice which is the part of their course that involves interaction with patients.

The independent panel formed as part of the report, spoke to 33 members of staff and students whilst undertaking both online surveys and personal interviews.

The panel outlined the main aim of the report:

“To highlight changes which may help avoid similar incidents in future but, more importantly, the doctors of the future, who may be practising in multi-cultural societies may require further attention to their curriculum in dealing with ethnicity and diversity”.

Chairman of the panel, Bhugra announced that the report had compiled its evidence resulting in the creation of 13 recommendations to the university, including the need for training in diversity of race, gender and sexual orientation.

Speaking with regards to the report Prof Bhugra said: “whilst the university and School of Medicine did their best to deal with this incident in accordance with its established procedures, our report does highlight a number of specific and overarching issues that the university needs to consider and address”.

In response to the report Cardiff’s University and Cardiff Medical School have accepted all 13 of the recommendations outlined in the report, which encompass:

> Increasing the diversity of University Staff

> Actively discouraging the stereotyping of any person, or group

> Clarifying the structures of The Equality and Diversity Initiatives within the University and The Medical School

> Providing all university staff with regular training in diversity of race, gender and sexual orientation.

> Improving the Complaints procedures, ensuring there are clear guidelines for someone wishing to make complaints about racism.

In the report it was noted that in addition to racist undertones, there were portrayals in the revue, which were seen, as homophobic and misogynist.

When questioned on how the University reacted to the report, Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor Prof Colin Riordan said: “As a University we accept the report’s recommendations and are already undertaking a number of proactive measures to address them. It is important that we take the time to take stock and develop the appropriate policies and procedures in response. We fully accept, however, that we must do more.

“I welcome the fact that the report recognises that the University has many good policies and initiatives in the area of equality and diversity and their recommendations are an attempt to enhance and support the action already being taken.

“I am also reassured that the report reinforces the point that students and staff feel sufficiently empowered to raise these issues.”

In response to the report Cardiff University added:

“Our message is clear: offensive stereotyping of any person, or group of persons, is not acceptable. Cardiff University takes issues relating to equality and diversity very seriously and is committed to supporting, developing and promoting equality and diversity in all of our activities.”

In their statement, The Panel recognised: “that this was a complex situation that had caused a tremendous amount of stress all around, among students, staff and managers.” However, a South Wales Police spokesperson has confirmed that no action was taken against any student involved.