Cardiff University response to Students' Union AGM motion on EHRC report – 22/11/2019
Cardiff University welcomes the report, ‘Tackling racial harassment: universities challenged’. This report can only further and deepen the understanding of the experience of racial harassment across the sector and its impact on both students and staff. As a University we are already taking proactive steps to ensure that promoting race equality is central to us as an institution. We fully recognise there is still more work to be done, working alongside the wider Higher Education sector and society as a whole.
Like the rest of the sector it is important that we take time to digest the report’s findings and consider its recommendations. Cardiff University is seeking to build upon good practice currently established and awaits the response from the UUK advisory group and the OFS to further inform, challenge and scrutinise our current actions and existing internal projects. We commit to integrating external advice and guidance with our own local expertise in order to make a real difference.
The University accepts there is limited understanding and a lack of confidence in talking about racial harassment within the current environment. The Vice Chancellor acknowledges the importance, urgency and priority of leadership in tackling racial harassment. As part of the process to open up more meaningful conversations about race, the University’s Senior Staff Conference this year included an emphasis on race equality, providing attendees with an opportunity to consider their responsibilities as a group of leaders in addressing these issues. We will also be establishing a task and finish group to take views and make suggestions on measures to improve the diversity and inclusivity of our academic leadership cohort.
Cardiff University takes any allegation of racial harassment extremely seriously and we urge any student or staff member to raise complaints via our formal complaint procedures. Students are also able to report incidents of racial harassment both named and anonymously to Cardiff University’s Disclosure Response Team. Launched in October 2017, the project aims to assist and offer support to students who have previously been victims of violence or assault. Those who choose to report their experiences anonymously will not receive physical help, but their incident will be recorded by the University to help better understand trends and patterns of sexual and violent activity on campus and this includes racial harassment.
We have taken significant steps to provide support to both the complainant and the staff who work with the complainant. We have established a ‘Race Equality Supervisory Panel’ that is highlighted in the EHRC’s report (page 91). The aim of this panel is to reduce barriers to reporting, build trust and provide a consistent framework and process for reporting. It raises awareness of racial harassment and encourages the reporting of race hate crimes or incidents with the aim of improving transparency in terms of the gathering of data around complaints and the types of complaints. The panel is working closely with the Data Protection Officer who provides advice on safeguarding the complainant’s personal data. In doing so, we are establishing an appropriate balance between transparency and the wellbeing of complainants. The inclusion of a diverse group of staff working on cases ensures consistency of practice, avoids dependency on any one individual and increases learning and knowledge in this area.
Staff are able to raise incidents of racial harassment through our Dignity at Work and Study Policy. Staff also have access to Care First, our Employee Assistance Programme, providing a free confidential helpline and support for staff, and access to face-to-face or telephone counselling.
We continue to work together with our Students’ Union, the Race Equality Steering Group, BME+ Network, The BAME attainment gap group, Talking Race Equality, The BAME Staff Network and the BME SU Officer, academic schools and professional services to ensure that we make real improvements in this area and on the broader issue of race equality in higher education.