A racist incident unfolded at Warwick University in which a student was targeted in their Halls of Residence, which, in turn, has spurred on support from Twitter users and from countless other University’s media groups, including ours.
After the incident occurred, in which student Faramade Ifaturoti found bananas in her student accommodation communal area which had racial slurs on them, Faramade’s took to Twitter to express her concerns. The academic uploaded a picture of the fruit with the caption: “Just entered the kitchen and look at what one of my flat mates has done. I am extremely disgusted.”
Having tagged Warwick’s student accommodation Twitter account, Faramade was able to alert the university who responded within an hour of the tweet asking Ms Ifaturoti to DM them so that they could investigate the “completely unacceptable” situation. Warwick’s university newspaper, The Boar, immediately reported on the incident, commenting on the Twitter hashtag “#WeStandWithFara” which had developed since Faramade’s tweet was posted. The University allegedly reported to The Independent that they were investigating the occurrence as a matter of urgency.
Our University’s media team first heard about the incident when we were contacted by Matt Barker, co-news editor for Warwick University’s newspaper The Boar. Barker who stated the incident as “the tip of the iceberg” and suggested that they would like to conduct some investigations into racism at UK universities, asking us to collaborate with them. Other university media groups across the country, from St Andrews to UCL, were contacted regarding a survey that Warwick wished to distribute asking students about racism at their university and how their institutions handled it.
Though responses to the survey on our campus were limited, the results were surprising even amongst a smaller group. Though a vast majority (over 85%) didn’t think racism was prevalent on our campus, almost a third of the respondents noted that they had either personally experienced racism whist at University, or knew someone else studying here that had.
Despite nearly 9 out of 10 people saying they thought the Student’s Union and/or the University take racism on campus seriously, over 70% of UoL incidents were not reported. Could this mean we need to work harder at helping victims feel safe in being able to report any issues they’ve had? Or perhaps we have been desensitised to racial slurs and ‘jokes’, to the point where we consider them more of a social norm than an awful insult worthy of reporting.
Galaxy Press approached International Officer Eden Richardson to ask about her views on the matter at hand. She said: “In 2016 I would like to be in a world where such acts of racism are not something we must face – especially in a university environment… However, despite having a very diverse university, we are part of a society that still faces racism every day and we are unfortunately not immune to this demonstrated by the incident at Warwick.”
The incident itself reflects one that occurred in Leicester which was immediately handled by the University of Leicester’s Student Union. The issue occurred when Leicester city centre nightclub “Ghost” refused entry to a group of black students allegedly because of their race, quoting that “there was a quota of the number of black people allowed in the club.” Ghost nightclub retaliated explaining that it was not a policy that they had in place and that all of their staff would be given refresher training of their policies and performance expectations following the occurrence. The University of Leicester immediately took action by banning student nights at the allegedly racist nightclub and removing any affiliation with them at all.
By Emma Smith