Racism best tackled in the open 1

May 30, 2003

The reason why lecturers should teach racist students is that the latter need more education, not less ("AUT: why should we teach racists?", THES , May 23). Such students may cause lecturers difficulties, and helpful advice from the AUT is welcome but not an endorsement of a refusal to teach.

If racist students are aggressive or violent, they must be dealt with by the university's disciplinary system, not summarily by individual staff. If they do not break the disciplinary code, they are entitled to be taught, with the lecturer taking any opportunity to confront their racist beliefs.

The AUT is opposed to discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. It cannot possibly approve discrimination by political belief, no matter how obnoxious this is - because it is only when beliefs are held obnoxious by others that this principle of tolerance amounts to more than pious words.

I am confident that when the AUT's advice appears it will conform to its long-standing principles, without any fudging.

Anthony Matthew
Leicester University

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