In the wake of the anti-racism protests following the terrible killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement all over the world, Nuffield College reaffirms its opposition to racial discrimination in all its forms.
As highlighted in the Heads of Oxford Colleges letter signed by the Warden and sent to The Guardian on 4 June, we stand in solidarity with black and minority ethnic members of our University community and are committed to taking action to continue to address racial bias and inequality.
We also fully support and are proud to share the message that our JCR Equality and BME reps recently sent to the Nuffield student mailing list, full text below. As this message powerfully points out: “Nuffield and its student community absolutely have their own role to play in assessing the issues we have when it comes to institutional racism and doing better”.
We recognise that statements alone cannot effect change. And we acknowledge that the College still has some way to go to fully realise its aspiration to “promote diversity amongst its members and achieve equity in the experience and achievement of all students and employees” (Nuffield Equality Statement).
We have taken steps in this direction already, for example, with the launch in 2019 of the Nuffield Undergraduate Scholars Institute, a pioneering graduate access summer school for undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds for which black and minority ethnic students are given preference.
We know that more needs to be done. In addition to continuing with our tradition of social science research on socio-economic inequality, disadvantage, and discrimination (including recent work on racial discrimination by Nuffield’s Centre for Social Investigation), we will also focus on actions that can have a more immediate impact on the shape and experience of our community.
We commit to:
- continue to run events, such as the BME Lecture, that provide an open forum for the discussion of issues around racial inequality and actions against it.
- review our Equality and Diversity objectives during the next academic year to identify tangible ways in which race equality can be further promoted within and beyond the College, for example, through reviewing our admissions and recruitment processes. In doing so, our aim will be to improve both the representation and the experience of black and minority ethnic groups within our community.
- work closely with our Fellows and students – especially, but not only, those whose research relates to the African continent – in order to forge links with African universities and attract African social scientists to Oxford and Nuffield.
We understand that tackling racial inequality takes time and ongoing, concerted effort: and we remain absolutely committed to continuing our work to promote equality and diversity in the long term within Nuffield College, and beyond.
Full text of the message sent by Inga Steinberg, JCR Equality Rep and Ahmed Tohamy, BME Rep to Nuffield students on 5 June 2020
We hope you are well and are keeping safe in this difficult time.
As the BME and Equality Reps, we wanted to reach out to all of you in the wake of the horrifying murder of George Floyd (amongst many others), and the BLM protests both in the US and across the world.
First and foremost, we want to say that we stand in solidarity with BLM and those fighting racism and police brutality across the world right now (and always). The recent events will have undoubtedly been a difficult and emotional time for some/many of us, and we are here to support you in any way we can.
As a community, it is important we learn from what is happening and try to do better. Racism is not only an American issue, and it does not simply boil down to 'big' acts such as hateful slurs and violence. As you already know, it is often much more subtle and institutional.
Nuffield and its student community absolutely have their own role to play in assessing the issues we have when it comes to institutional racism and doing better. We need to reflect on our own behaviour and beliefs and learn from what is happening right now, especially in the context of a relative lack of diversity amongst both the student body and the faculty. To further build on our current efforts to fight racism as a community, such as the Nuffield Undergraduate Scholars Institute (NUSI), we need to talk, learn and reflect no matter how uncomfortable this may make us.
Finally, please remember the importance of kindness and understanding during these difficult times. Let’s make sure these events unite us against injustice and oppression. We hope you are all staying safe, and are looking forward to being reunited with all of you soon.
All the best,
Ahmed and Inga