TW - Racism, anti-Semitism
Earlier this year, Warwick’s student newspaper published “A history of racism at Warwick.” Its findings are a complete contradiction to the University’s commitment of creating “a safe, welcoming and productive environment.” They are also completely sickening.
2014 seemed to be a particularly bad year for racism at Warwick. The Men’s Rugby Club had its own ‘slave auction.’ A racist photo with the caption “I caught me a n*****!!” was also allegedly posted on social media. Then, a student had to withdraw from Warwick due to his leadership role in the anti-Semitic National Action movement.
Were lessons learned in time for 2015? Nope. That year, a senior Estates Manager reportedly discriminated against students based on their names sounding “foreign”. According to The Boar, “it was unclear whether he left of his own accord or if he was dismissed by the University.”
Were lessons learned in time for 2016? Again, it looks like they weren’t. In 2016, a Black student had racist comments written on her bananas. It was only after the incident went viral that the University investigated. Warwick allegedly offered her “alternative accommodation”, but I haven’t been able to find evidence that the perpetrators faced disciplinary action. Maybe they got away with it. Following the #WeStandWithFara hashtag, a former student told the Guardian that they too had been the victim of frequent racist abuse at Warwick. The Boar then co-led a national student survey on racism, but the results “were never released.”
As if that wasn’t bad enough, a student known for his participation in an online hate group underplayed the seriousness of the incident. He graduated in 2018, sanction-free.
And what about 2017? You guessed it. That year, a Law School careers advisor asked Black students if Black people were “generally laid back.” She was cleared of wrongdoing.
And who could forget Warwick’s infamous group chat? I’m sure the University wishes it could. Among rape threats, there were messages in support of Hitler and the statement “racism is class.” It was never made clear which perpetrators received what sanctions, but to the best of my knowledge, at least one of them is back on campus this year.
Warwick’s repeated failure to address and punish racism makes its recent BLM statement look like a farce. Whilst it does acknowledge racism’s prevalence in Higher Education and thank those students and staff for “their time and emotional labour” in sharing their experiences of racism, the whole thing feels hollow. What follows is a long list of actions to help the uni implement “institutional change.” Funding a Decolonise Project? Tick. Establishing a Race Equality Taskforce? Tick. Targets to close the Black Attainment Gap and improve reporting systems? Double tick. A genuine desire to help Black and ethnic minority students feel safer on campus? Question mark.
Given Warwick’s history, I can't help but feel cynical.