The brutal murder of George Floyd and the subsequent international demonstrations of outrage make it imperative that Sheffield Hallam University responds quickly, to do even more to tackle the impacts of incidental, institutional and systemic racism.
This university is a large, diverse community. We are committed to understanding and making progress toward eradicating inequalities. For the avoidance of doubt, neither racism nor intolerance of any kind has a place in our community.
However, like all institutions, we have our challenges. We acknowledge that there are many complex facets to this work and believe that we need to do much more.
Our student body is highly diverse, but there are embedded differences in student attainment which we are striving to eradicate. Our staff population is insufficiently diverse, especially at more senior levels, and we are working to make it more diverse. On both indicators we can report progress, but we have not made progress fast enough and we need to do more.
As a University, a place that exists for learning and the furtherance of knowledge, we are in a position of power in our region. We intend to use our platform by being open about the issues we face and to show that we are taking action to dismantle shamefully longstanding inequality and white privilege.
We have started this work and we have much to do, but as we make progress, we will become increasingly welcoming and a truly better place as a result.
We are one of the few universities which has brought together issues of staff and student equalities in a single place, under the leadership of our Chief People Officer, Dr Sally Jackson. Our Human Resource and Organisation Development Directorate, Academic Development and Diversity Team, along with the entire university community are working on several key actions, including:
- improving diversity in our curriculum and teaching resources.
- narrowing the attainment gap that exists between white and BAME students.
- applying for chartered status through the Advance HE Race Equality Charter - providing a frank appraisal of race equality in the institution, identifying the specifics of inequality and writing an action plan to ensure we are accountable.
- developing a five-year race equity action plan, reflecting the latest research from the National Union of Students and Universities UK.
- forming cross-university ‘Narrowing the Gaps’ forums, to hold the university accountable at College level.
- working with departmental teams on targeted action to spearhead decolonising the curriculum, enabling safe placements for BAME students, and providing appropriate mentoring.
- ensuring regular staff development on racism and racial bias, producing bespoke activities and a range of online resources to broaden staff understanding.
We value all our staff and students, and want to ensure that everyone knows that they belong and have a right to be treated fairly and equitably. We are working to make the university more inclusive so that anyone – regardless of who they are – can study, work – and feel they belong.
We want people to be able to call out inequality when it is experienced or witnessed. We want students and colleagues, especially BAME students and colleagues in this institution, to know that when they raise issues of racism, they will suffer no detriment and that such issues will be dealt with.
As a Board of Governors, working alongside the Vice-Chancellor and other colleagues, we take direct responsibility for prioritising our race equality work.
Thank you for outlining how many within our student community feel.
We hope that this response has provided an overview of the latest progress, although we know that much more must be done. We will ensure that the university community is kept up to date on developments and can help to shape our response.
Finally, we would like to outline that we are absolutely committed to fighting racial injustice and will continue to work with colleagues across the University to ensure that we have an environment that is inclusive for all, regardless of background.
Sheffield Hallam University Board of Governors