Scholars and student leaders told lawmakers about their frustration at the denial and lack of practical action to combat the “entrenched institutional racism” felt by black students and campus staff.
Nicolas Rollack, a professor of social policy and race at King’s College London, said examples of racism in academia were “incredibly banal” to the media, despite some of their victims leading to suicide.
Rolak said: “We are not talking about a single incident, but women and other colleagues in the sector have been and continue to be exposed to a set of systematic behaviors that undermine and exclude colored colleagues. period of time.
“In other contexts it would be described as bullying. In other contexts this would be described as abuse. But because it is a topic of racism, it recedes into the background.
Rolok, an expert on the career of black professors, told members of the Committee on Women’s Affairs and Equality about the treatment of black scientists by their employers, “who were so upset, so traumatic and so shocking that they made them think about taking their own lives.” ».
She added: “So I want to be absolutely clear when we’re talking about everyday racism, we’re not talking about weird eyebrow raising or weird insignificance. We are talking about systematic, constant subversive and protective behavior, which is under the banner of everyday racism.
Rollack’s remarks were supported by David Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia, who said it was clear that “differences in institutional racism” were behind the differences in the scores awarded to white and black students.
“I think we need to move away from this debate and actually make progress in eliminating this institutional racism,” Richardson said. “It has been 15 or more years since the institutions had a 20% gap in the awarding of diplomas, and during this time this gap has not narrowed.
“I think we just haven’t found the time to address these hidden issues that affect students from blacks, Asians and minorities and lead to these gaps in awarding degrees.”
Rolak said: “If we want to move forward in a significant way – and some colleagues may find this controversial, but I think it is necessary – then we will need to consider the levers that will actually encourage or perhaps force change. And we depend not only on goodwill, more reports or individual commitments. ”
The committee also interviewed Larissa Kennedy, National President of the National Union of Students (NUS), about accusations of anti-Semitism who persecuted the organization. Kennedy said the NUS acted “incredibly quickly” on complaints about anti-Semitism, including from the Jewish Students Union.
“We look forward to this investigation and have revealed ourselves even more than requested … because we believe that any change we need to see must be a commitment to real transformative change that takes into account structural issues,” Kennedy said. .
“As President of the country, I deeply regret that we are at this stage, but I also very much welcome that we can begin this work that is truly about transformative change.”