By Vicky Witts | Advice Editor
Life as a university student is often portrayed as a good opportunity to express your individual identity and beliefs in an inclusive and accepting environment, which you may never have experienced before.
However, there are still many cases where racism at university exists between students online and on university campuses which should not be acceptable, especially not in areas such as universities which often try to promote their very diverse and inclusive populations. For example, there was a case at Cardiff University where the School of Dentistry had faced allegations of the use of racist language by some staff, students, and patients.
From cases such as these, it is perhaps clear that the attitudes of some students must change, and that people should know how to correctly deal with situations where racism at university occurs.
In light of events such as black history month and the recent black lives matter movement which have brought issues of racism to the forefront of the media, it is important to know what resources and actions are available if you witness or experience racism at university, so that universities can be places of complete inclusion rather than racism and discrimination.
Utilising university and Students’ Union services
Reporting discrimination to your university or university Students’ Union is a way to ensure that anyone who has been discriminatory to you or your peers will be officially reviewed and likely disciplined for their actions. There are various ways to do this however, so it may seem a daunting task if you decide that this is the course of action that you want to take.
Cardiff University Students’ Union for example, began a campaign in 2015 called “it’s no joke”, which aims to help students report any discrimination or ‘lad culture’ that they have experienced or witnessed within the Students’ union. The campaign on the website includes contact details for the Disclosure Response Team to whom you can report discrimination, violence and abuse, as well as an online form which you can complete if you want to report an incident regarding a specific university group or society.
There are also Student Support Centres on the university campuses which may be able to give you advice and have conversations with you if you feel that you have experienced racism or discrimination while studying at university.
Being confident to speak up
Although services such as those supplied by universities may be useful to people wanting to report racism that they personally have experienced, it is also important to act if you have witnessed racism and discrimination occurring to someone else.
By being a bystander, you are effectively allowing racism to occur within your university community and may therefore be preventing a decline in cases of racism.
Simply speaking up for someone experiencing discrimination at the time that it occurs may discourage racism on campus or even possibly cause those with discriminatory views to re-evaluate their thoughts and actions.
It may seem daunting to those facing discrimination to stand up for themselves or gain the courage to report it, and so, by simply making the conscious choice to not be a bystander, or by talking to those who you feel have been affected, you may be encouraging them to report the abuse they have faced or at least reassure them that the racist views that they have encountered are not the views of everyone.