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BAME students feel unsafe on campus, finds Goldsmiths racism report

Goldsmiths, University of London (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Goldsmiths, University of London (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

A number of black and minority ethnic students at Goldsmiths University feel victimised as they are frequently hit with overt and indirect racism from their white peers and staff, a report said on Thursday (10).

Almost half (45 per cent) of Goldsmiths students are from BAME backgrounds, and 26 per cent of those surveyed said they experienced racism from students and staff members, the study titled Insider-Outsider: The role of race in shaping the experiences of black and minority ethnic students revealed.

Racial discrimination has prevented nearly two-fifths (37%) of respondents from participating in university life and more than a third said they have modified their ethnic or cultural identify to avoid being racially targeted.

While the university has procedures to tackle racism, only a third said they trusted Goldsmiths to handle complaints of racism properly. More than three-quarters (79 per cent) of those surveyed said they did not know where to report a hate crime at Goldsmiths.

Prof Elisabeth Hill, Goldsmiths’ deputy warden, said the findings of the report cannot be ignored.

“These findings are simply unacceptable and paint a clear picture, which cannot be ignored,” she was quoted as saying by the Guardian. “This report demands a response from everyone at Goldsmiths and illustrates the amount of work we must all undertake to address these vital matters.”

She said work was underway to meet the recommendations of the report, which included mandatory race-awareness training for staff and a review of complaints procedures.

Meanwhile, an anti-racism student activist organisation has accused Goldsmiths University of watering down the racism report.

Mona Mounir, welfare and liberation officer at Goldsmiths students’ union, said the foreword she was asked to write for the report was pulled at the last minute because the university was unhappy with the criticisms she made.

Describing the challenges of undertaking anti-racism work at the university and its students’ union, Mounir wrote: “I realised that the students’ union has ‘liberation’ as a priority in the set written values but does not demonstrate that as much as it should in practice.

“This is similar to how Goldsmiths University tries to brand itself as a progressive and ‘left’ institution but in reality, that is not the case. There are a lot of changes happening within the students’ union right now to address this, from new staff, new management, to hopefully a new structure that will have a significant positive change.”

Mounir said she was also dissatisfied with the report’s recommendations.

According to her, the report contains “nothing actually new” that the students’ union hasn’t already raised.

“There is a lot that’s been toned down on language and stuff like that, and a lot that’s been covered up,” she added.