Following the recent reports of racism from both past and present students at Lancaster University, an open letter has been addressed to Vice-Chancellor Professor Schofield and Professor Bradley in hope of prompting change.
On the 20th January 2022, Former Lancaster Student Sa’ad Mustafa revealed in a Tiktok, that he was a victim of racism at Lancaster University. Since these allegations came to light, more and more students have come forward with reports of racism on campus.
Recognising that these students needed a platform for their voices to be heard, Labour Councillor for the University and Scotforth Rural Ward Lancaster, Fabiha Askari, and WIMCW set up a Google form in hopes of giving students a space to anonymously report cases of racism at Lancaster University.
During an interview with The Tab, Fabiha Askari expressed that: “the fact that such an environment exists in Lancaster where people are able to do such things acts, in itself, is proof that they do not fear the consequences of their actions.”
Since gathering testimonies, an open letter has been addressed to Vice-Chancellor Professor Schofield and Professor Bradley in hope of prompting change at Lancaster University.
The open letter begins by calling on University Management to “affirm your commitment to building an anti-racist University.”
Noting the “recently publicised cases of horrific racist abuse experienced by students” it claims that “Lancaster University is falling short when it comes to tackling racism on campus.”
The open letter calls for short-term actions including, but not limited to: “an acknowledgment that there is a serious problem with racism at Lancaster University and a commitment to taking action to rectify this, along with apologies for recent cases of racism that the University has sadly fallen short in dealing with.”
Although the open letter acknowledges the progress made in relation to the Racial Equality Charter, it notes that “by the time the REC application is submitted in 2024, the majority of current students are likely to have graduated” so more immediate action is required.
In response to the concerns raised in the open letter, Lancaster University have said that:
Lancaster University continued: “however, if one person experiences racism on our campus then this is completely unacceptable – and as a community we need to take shared responsibility for speaking out and reporting inappropriate behaviours, words or actions we see directed towards others.”
In response to concerns over the action required, Lancaster University have said that, “race inequalities are a significant issue within the higher education sector. In recognition of this we signed up to the Race Equality Charter in April 2021 which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. We want long lasting and deep seated change. However as we identify issues we will implement change.”
Lancaster University commented that they will be “listening to concerns and continually working on a number of levels to make sure we learn and improve.” and that “the senior leadership team, including our Vice-Chancellor, will be hosting a listening event with our students to hear directly from them about any concerns, challenges and suggestions they have about their experiences at Lancaster University so that, where needed, additional action can be taken.”
The open letter makes a point to include the Students’ Union, claiming that “for too long, they have also fallen short when it comes to providing a genuinely anti-racist space” which is “both unacceptable and incredibly unfair on the students this organisation represents.”
Lancaster University have responded to this concern expressing that “we look forward to working in partnership with the Students’ Union, and the broader University community, to improve wherever possible, ensuring our values are upheld and that every member of our community has the very best experience at Lancaster.”
Lancaster Students’ Union
A students’ union spokesperson said: “If any students feel let down, then we want to hear from them about how we can better represent them. We will continue to work with Lancaster University along with the student community to ensure a partnership approach to tackling racism.
“We want all students to feel represented by their union. Everyone should feel safe within our Lancaster community, and as part of our efforts to achieve that we are now a third-Party Hate Crime Reporting Centre.”
“So while we do not recognise the description in the open letter of what the Students’ Union is doing and has done over the years to represent the needs of minority students, we recognise that it is an ongoing struggle and that we can and must do more.
“To do that we will carry on working with our students, Lancaster University and other partners to ensure everyone has the very best experience at Lancaster.
Lancaster Students’ Union have made further comment expressing that “If anyone experiences racism at Lancaster University we want them to know we are there to support them, and they can report it and get support by visiting the Students’ Union or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”
To view or sign the open letter, follow this link