• Monday, June 05, 2023


University urges students to have ‘hard conversations’ over ‘white privilege’

Guidance from Imperial College London tells students to understand that they have ‘white privilege’ and also urged them to ‘educate others’.

Imperial College London.

By: Pramod Thomas

A British university has issued a new guidance urging students to have ‘hard conversations’ with friends and family over ‘white privilege’.

On its guidance on equality, diversity and inclusion page, Imperial College London told students that they ‘have white privilege’ and asked them become a ‘white ally’ by contributing to Black Lives Matter (BLM), reported The Telegraph.

“If you have friends or family who take a different stance on these issues, now is the time to have a hard conversation with them and ask them to rethink their views,” it stated.

The BLM is a decentralised political and social movement that highlighted racism, discrimination, and racial inequality experienced by black people.

John Armstrong, reader in financial mathematics at King’s College London, has demanded the institution to scrap the new guidance, adding that staff are afraid to express their concerns for fear of being demoted or fired.

“Diversity is a serious issue. Imperial making a laughing stock of themselves in this way is unlikely to help them improve the experience of minority groups. Guidance which promotes a particular political viewpoint inevitably encroaches on academic freedom,” Armstrong was quoted as saying by MailOnline.

Now, despite opposition from the Lords, academics are insisting that the government adopt the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) bill as such, including clause 4. If it is implemented, academics and students would be able to sue universities for violating their free expression rights.

Academics would only exercise those powers under the proposed changes as a “last resort” after exhausting all other options, including filing complaints with the relevant university and the higher education regulator.

In a recent interview to the Guardian, Prof David Richardson, chair of Universities UK’s advisory group on stamping out racial harassment on campuses and vice-chancellor of University of East Anglia, said that UK universities are institutionally racist.

“I think it’s ingrained and indoctrinated within the system. It’s not so much something that’s really overt, open racism, although that does exist. It’s more the micro-aggressions and systemic racism,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The Imperial College incident is part of a string of incidents happened in universities around topics of colonialism and white privilege.

Recently, academics at the University of Lincoln have branded the Victorian poet laureate, Lord Tennyson, as “problematic” because of his “support for British imperialism”.

During a recent “decolonisation tour” of the university’s buildings attended by some 150 students, the “offensive views” of some of the historical figures featured on campus were highlighted.

A plaque erected on a campus building named after the Lincolnshire-born literary giant says he “strongly supported British imperial rule” and his poems “seem to confirm the dominant beliefs at the time about faith, gender, British identity”.

Also, academics at the University of Warwick branded Sir Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe as “offensive” for its portrayal of racial minorities.

The university’s English department warns its students: “Amongst the aspects readers might find disturbing, this text includes offensive depictions of people of colour and of persecuted ethnic minorities, as well as misogyny.”

Published in 1819, Ivanhoe contains passages which show black slaves and Arab Muslim captives as being prejudiced against Jews. Critics also say some female characters in historical fiction, including Rowenna, are portrayed as pawns of male characters.

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