A Nottingham Trent student suffered racial abuse in her hall and sadly it's nothing new
On March 7th, Nottingham Trent fresher student Rufaro Chisango posted a video onto Twitter where chants of "We hate the Blacks", "Black and Whites are never meant to be together" and "sign the Brexit papers" were heard outside her bedroom door. For those that wish to the aforementioned video, it is embedded below.
Chisango added: "I told reception and they said that this will be dealt with Tuesday morning, they took my details and said they would inform me...it's Wednesday night and they haven't."
Since then, many were angered and outraged by the video, wondering how in this modern period in Britain in an education facility full of young people could this have possibly have happened. This isn't the only time this has happened, just last week a black student at De Montfort University in Leicester heard students sing about lynching and was repeatedly called the N-word.
Alike, another black student at Warwick University, Faramade Ifaturoti, has been a victim of offensive slurs including 'monkey' and the N-word which also gathered Twitter attention. Likewise, there have been incidents of racist graffiti being daubed on walls at the University of Birmingham and at a nearby mosque as well as a gym.
Then at Bournemouth University a couple of months ago another minority student, Telma Rodrigues, was subjected to racist comments where she is told to "go back to the fields" and was called a "gorilla-looking motherfucker".
Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg. It's 2018, everybody. We're supposed to be a lot more progressive and tolerant society and in today's universities there is a growing number of minority-ethnic students and staff. Though these incidents are appalling, discrimination is something that is deeply ingrained in higher education whether it be the staff, the curricula and even the building themselves are founded on a history of exclusion. Historically, academia in the West has been run by White men for White men.
How can this be changed? It's a systematic problem involving systematic oppression so it requires systematic change.
The BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) student retention rates and the attainment gap in universities are especially important, a demand in further research and transparency about why figures are so disproportinate.
As a student in Nottingham Trent, this incident was the last thing I expected to encounter, especially in this particular university where I've felt a lot safer since entering in terms of discrimination compared to where I grew up. However, the fact there wasn't a swift response from the university is alarming, especially as universities have a track record of failing to address racism.
So here are some ideas; universities should perhaps create an online forum where students can anonymously be honest about their experiences, this information could then be gathered into a huge database of the ways the university and the union can deal with it then students can be easily directed to the services that they need, as well as helping them engage more directly with the union.
There also needs to be an increase in the visibility of the 'Black Lives Matter' and the 'Together Against Prevent' movements as well as the number of events inclusive of and focused on underrepresented communities, as well as an increase of awareness of Hate Crime Reporting procedures and emphasise a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech.
However, BME students need to lead the honest conversation so that we can make BME students feel more included, and keeping this conversation on the forefront more is vital. This is only the beginning of a long battle, racism and discrimination lives in every corner of our society and it should no longer be tolerated, ever.
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