Open letter from the Vice–Chancellor
I want to start by saying that I share the horror and condemn this killing in the strongest possible terms.
The murder of George Floyd is just one more example of the daily violence and discrimination black people face.
While this incident may have happened in the US, it is very apparent that black people here too are feeling this just as much. I understand the extent and existence of racism and discrimination within our society and how it manifests in all our institutions.
I understand that black people will feel the hurt, anger and frustration that you are feeling because of the unfolding of the grim and horrifying events of last week.
As our public statement made clear, we are resolute: racism and discrimination have no place in our modern society.
The murder of George Floyd, the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities, and ongoing injustices have brought pain and suffering to BAME communities that must be acknowledged and addressed.
I can assure you Cardiff University is determined to be a force for change.
We must renew and increase our efforts to root out racism and address the structural barriers that still exist for all our BAME staff and students.
Some of this work includes facilitating conversations and discussions about race. Having these conversations and discussions has enabled us to develop more inclusive environments and we understand that it is essential to listen to the lived experiences of our BAME students and staff.
Whilst I recognise and understand your deep strength of feeling, I want to reassure you that action is being taken.
Whilst progress can appear slow, there is an incredible amount of work being done across the University by extremely dedicated and highly motivated staff and students to address many of the issues you have raised.
I personally chair the Diversity in Leadership Group which is looking at increasing diversity within the University in leadership and decision-making positions. As part of this work we are looking at potential barriers to progression or promotion in our procedures.
Our Race Equality Steering Group is examining race equality across the University. The Group is currently reviewing process and procedures that are barriers to recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse staff and students.
The Group has already put forward recommendations for change in various areas including recruitment questions covering commitment to diversity, advertising in diverse publications and engaging with the wider community.
There are also two subgroups covering staff and students which report back into the Group for us to be able to ensure we included a measured set of perspectives.
For our students, we have established a BAME group to examine issues contributing to the awarding gap. They are producing a series of recommendations for action that will close these gaps and improve the longer-term outcomes for BAME students aimed at supporting diversity, promoting an open and inclusive environment whilst building helpful constructions of the BAME student and staff experience.
We also want to create a safe space where all members of the BAME student community come together to explore culturally diverse literature, listen to a range of speakers, and engage in lively conversation. One of the ways we have tried to do this is by creating a BAME book club which has been well received and support by our students.
In addition, we have established a Talking Race Equality discussion panel aimed to promote change in the cultural environment by reflecting the diverse experiences of our staff and students and providing an essential safe space to hold vital conversations about race.
Back in 2017 we launched the #itooamcardiff campaign, an exhibition to increase communication across cultures and generations. It seeks to raise awareness of some of the issues BME students face, feel and think about their everyday lives, with the aim of instilling pride and building a culture of tolerance.
More crucially, we want to ensure that our BAME students get the right support they need. That is why we have invested in BAME staff within our Student Support and Wellbeing service.
BAME Students also need to feel able to report acts of racism and have confidence that appropriate action will be taken. One of the ways they can do this is to report incidents via our Disclosure Response Team. They are a team of specialist University staff trained to respond to disclosures of violence and abuse.
A second approach is our Race Equality Supervisory Panel, which was established to raise awareness of race equality, provide advice on relationships between staff and students and further encourage the reporting of racial harassment within Cardiff University.
We support BAME students affected by harassment, hate crime and other forms of unacceptable behaviour.
The University also has a formal complaints procedure. To ensure we can investigate effectively it’s important students raise complaints formally so they can be investigated through the appropriate University channels.
I accept there is still a great deal more work to be done but we are committed to embedding equality, awareness and change into all aspects of our work, and please understand that this is a long-term commitment we take very seriously.
These recent events show how deep and appalling the problem of racial inequality and discrimination continues to be in society.
Our purpose as a University must be to benefit society. As a teaching institution curriculum change and education is key, and our Strategic Equality Plan 2020-2024 includes actions to develop an inclusive curriculum that will reassess the learning environment and content of programmes. Through this work we will continue to address discrimination and are determined to eradicate it.