Letter to Lord Mann from the Deputy Vice–Chancellor - 19.5.21
Dear Lord Mann
I write further to my letter of 15th March 2021 in which I undertook to update you on Cardiff’s consideration of adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.
You will remember that our Vice-Chancellor recommended the adoption of this definition together with the additional clarifications proposed by the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) in 2016. Our governance processes require that discussion of significant matters of this kind are considered at the appropriate university committees.
In February, Senate considered the adoption of both the IHRA definition of antisemitism and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia. Recognising that the adoption of particular definitions – even those that command support across the sector – can lack clarity in relation to the very groups such definitions seek to protect, Senate recommended that we should pause and engage in further discussion on this matter.
The issue was therefore appropriately brought to University Council for advice. Council considered the matter scrupulously. It agreed with the points made at Senate and concluded that adopting selected religion- or race- specific definitions may have the unfortunate consequence of appearing to exclude other faith groups or races in relation to whom definitions are not adopted. Avoiding such a potentially divisive situation was key to Council’s decision not to adopt either definition. Further, Council was clear that the University’s existing policies, which sit within wider legislative frameworks, are robust.
Fully committed as it is both to safeguarding all our students and staff no matter their religion, race or belief, and to confronting discrimination and racism in all their forms, the University pledges to continue carefully to evaluate the effectiveness of those policies.
The University already references the IHRA definition in a guidance section on our staff and student intranet relating to the institution’s Dignity at Work and Study policy, in which antisemitism is explicitly identified as behaviour that is completely unacceptable. Our Disclosure Response Team provides expert support to any student experiencing hate crime, including those on the grounds of religion, and we actively remind students that this service is available to them on a regular basis.
Professor Karen Holford
Letter sent 15 March 2021
Dear Lord Mann
I write further to my letter of 8th December regarding Cardiff University’s consideration of adopting the IHRA working definition of antisemitism.
You will recall that our Vice-Chancellor recommended the adoption of this definition together with the additional clarifications proposed by the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) in 2016.
Valuable discussions have been held at our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, which I chair. We have also mapped the IHRA definition against our existing policies and undertaken an Equality Impact Assessment.
Our governance process requires that adoption of the definition is approved by our University Council and also considered by our Senate. Senate recently considered the adoption of both the IHRA definition (alongside the HASC clarifications) and the APPG definition of Islamophobia. Recognising that these definitions raise complex and nuanced issues, Senate recommended that we should pause for the present and engage in further discussion on this matter. We have decided at this point to seek the advice and insight of the University Council at its meeting in April and we should then be in a position to advise you of next steps.
As I outlined in my previous letter, the University already references the IHRA definition in a guidance section on our staff and student Intranet relating to the institution’s Dignity at Work and Study policy, in which antisemitism is explicitly identified as behaviour that is completely unacceptable. Our Disclosure Response Team provides expert support to any student experiencing hate crimes, including those on the grounds of religion, and we actively remind students that this service is available to them on a regular basis.
We remain absolutely committed to ensuring equality for all members of our community.
I will write to you again following the further period of discussion referred to above.
Professor Karen Holford
Letter sent 8 December 2020
Dear Lord Mann
Thank you for your letter dated 18th November 2020.
I am the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee at Cardiff University and have been passed a copy of your letter to consider.
We look forward to your “big announcement” later this month on the adoption and use of the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. We are pleased to confirm that the Vice-Chancellor will recommend the adoption of this definition together with the additional clarifications proposed by the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016 at the next meetings of Senate and Council on 24th February 2021 and 5th February 2021 respectively. We are also grateful to you for your confirmation at item (b) in your letter.
We agree that universities have an important role to play in providing equality on campus for students and staff, and we work with commitment and determination to achieve this. In this regard, I have appointed a Senior Compliance Adviser dedicated to Race, Religion and Belief and they lead on the Race Equality Supervisory Panel as featured in UUK’s Resource guide. The current version of the University’s Religion and Belief policy also includes a reference to the IHRA.
When the University’s Dignity at Work and Study policy was reviewed, feedback from the Students’ Union requested additional guidance be provided giving examples of the types of behaviour which would not be acceptable under the policy and this included antisemitism. To that end, we have developed a section on the student and staff Dignity at Work and Study intranet pages acknowledging the IHRA definition. We have reaffirmed the message that acts of discrimination, harassment or bullying on the grounds of an individual's perceived or actual Jewish background would be taken seriously and investigated under University procedures. We also took the opportunity to advise students experiencing hate crimes on the grounds of religion to provide reports to the Disclosure Response Team and seek support from them.
We also provide dedicated pastoral care for our Jewish students in the event that they experience antisemitism. In this regard, Cardiff University operates a non-denominational Chaplaincy service which provides:
- access to a Jewish Chaplain through referral from our other Chaplains. Our Jewish Chaplain is in regular contact with the Jewish Student Society
- worship and communal prayer
- social events to meet new friends
- opportunities to explore religious faith and issues of social justice
- confidential pastoral listening service
- quiet spaces for personal prayer or meditation
- lectures and debates to facilitate and encourage academic learning in a wide-range of fields, including theology, religious studies, ethics, and philosophy
- information about local faith communities and places of inter-faith worship events to encourage dialogue between members of different religions
We will write to you again following the meetings referred to above.
Professor Karen Holford