The consultation is important for everyone

Over the past few years I have devoted more and more of my time to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues within my department (Physics), the Maths, Physics and Life Sciences Division and the wider University. When I started off, I was concerned that, as a middle-aged white man, I would get things wrong, as I had no lived experience of discrimination based on my gender or ethnicity, or could be seen as someone who was trying to play the “white saviour” role. So I started off being quite cautious in how I contributed to various meetings, to make sure I understood the issues and also to understand what my role could be in helping to make change. It became clear over time that I was able to use my position and the various privileges that I have, to challenge things in a way that wasn’t perceived as personal, just “my problem”.

Over the past few years, I have also heard from many amazing individuals, who have spoken openly and bravely in meetings or to me personally, highlighting the various forms of discrimination and harassment that they have experience in Oxford and wider society. Although hard to hear, it did make me want to do more, and being asked to join the Race Equality Task Force opened up the possibility of helping make change quickly across the University. I can honestly say that I have learnt a huge amount over the past year, by being a member of the Task Force, and in particular co-chairing the Student Issues Working Group, with Nikita Ma and then Keisha Asare from the Oxford SU.  However, the key thing that I have learnt is that to have meaningful and transformational change, we need a lot of effort from the white staff and students in Oxford. We can’t solely rely on staff and students of colour to fix our problems. We make up the majority, and if we aren’t active in making positive change, we’ll never have the inclusive environment and culture that is possible.

We all have the responsibility to address race equality at our institution. We all need to be brave and to step up. This is your opportunity to join the conversation, provide your input and views and help shape the University’s work in this incredibly important area.

Take part in the Race Equality Task Force consultation 

All staff and students can contribute to the Race Equality Task Force consultation, giving you the chance to feedback on proposed measures for tackling the under-representation of racial minorities at Oxford.  You can either give your views on the overall priorities (which only takes a few minutes); or complete the full survey to provide more detailed input. You have until 1 December to take part.

The views in this blog are those of the individual and do not represent the unanimous view of all members of the Race Equality Task Force.