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June 9, 2020

From Professor Eunice Simmons, Vice-Chancellor

Racism, in common with intolerance of any kind, is abhorrent. It has no place in society and it has no place at the University of Chester.

Today is George Floyd’s funeral. His death has focussed global attention on important lessons for all of us and made us consider more deeply about what it is to be human and reflect on how we can, and should, treat others better.

I am convening a Challenge Group of students and staff to build on the work which we have already done, to ensure we are always alert to any possibility of systemic racism and failure to meet the needs identified by our BAME community now and in the future.

We will be asking some searching questions of ourselves and drawing on the best examples from organisations the world over to inform our thinking and our actions. We aim to be a beacon of diversity, attracting people to study and work from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible.

To do this we have been working hard at becoming a supportive learning community, among other things we:

  • have a well-established and representative Equality Forum
  • organise an ambitious annual Diversity Festival. This year’s 15th anniversary event, drew 1,000 visitors, with key influencers and activists from the BAME community as speakers, to keep the debate about race current and well-informed.
  • are working hard to eradicate gaps in access and attainment between white and BAME students by focusing actions at course, Faculty and University level
  • are reviewing how inclusive our curriculum is across the full range of subjects
  • are encouraging diversity in applications to become a professor, with the aim of attracting more BAME candidates
  • periodically survey all colleagues for their views on equality and the workplace

In my messages to all students and staff and individually over the past two weeks, I have been absolutely clear about our zero-tolerance stance on racism as an institution and our expectations of the same from every individual member of our academic community.

Collectively, we have a duty as an institution to call something out when it is unjust. Equally, anyone at the University is empowered to bring matters to our attention if words or actions are perceived as discriminatory and should be challenged.

Being an inclusive institution goes hand in hand with being a progressive institution and our new Strategy being prepared for this autumn will ensure diversity and equality feature even more strongly at the heart of this University.