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Encouraging voices to be heard: Inquiry into racial harassment at Welsh universities

By Jess Warren

Over the past two months, the Equality and Human Rights Commission have launched an inquiry into racial harassment in universities in Wales. The inquiry survey closes on Thursday, February 28th, and is open to students and staff directly affected by racial harassment, as well as students and staff who have witnessed and reported incidents of the same vein.

Currently, the inquiry has received an array of responses, with Cardiff having the highest proportion of responses from Wales. However, this is likely due to population demographics of the capital city, having a higher population overall, and a more ethnically diverse population.

The inquiry is looking for experiences between September 2015, and present day, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are specifically focussing on how the complaint of racial harassment was handled. This includes how accessible and available reporting an incident is, as well as how effective reporting it is felt to be.

Where data suggests there is room for improvement in the process of reporting incidents harassment, the inquiry will then look to make recommendations to universities across Wales, and the Welsh Government about how they can improve, set to come out in the Autumn of 2019.

This inquiry has come about following the State of the Nation Report 2018, which looked at how fair society is perceived to be, including education. The findings of this report then prompted a closer look into the education sector, focussing on experiences of race at university.

Gair Rhydd spoke with Kate Russell, who is leading the inquiry for Wales who added that the inquiry comes about because: “there has been evidence from universities and representative bodies where raising concerns over racial harassment has affected the staff and students who reported the incident, leading to resignations in some cases.”

With situations like this occurring around the UK, the inquiry aims to shed light on any unfair treatment of students and staff alike who have felt their complaint was not dealt with appropriately.

Kate was keen to express that: “the main aim of the inquiry is to encourage voices to be heard”, and whilst all responses are confidential, the more detail you can provide about your experiences will help drive change, and generate positive data that can generate action.

The bigger impact of this inquiry has seen greater engagement of BME university groups across Wales, with Kate meeting the Black Attainment Gap Group at Cardiff University surrounding the inquiry.

If you would like to confidentially report an experience surrounding the management of a racial harassment complaint, you’re able to submit a response at the bottom of this website: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/inquiries-and-investigations/racial-harassment-higher-education-our-inquiry

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