University of Oxford Rhodes scholar Donald Brown correctly identifies past instances when the university has fallen short on racial equality, whether it be the events surrounding Malcolm X’s visit or the 1964 list of university-approved landladies (“‘Are you a construction worker?’ Life as a black Rhodes scholar”, Features, 29 October).
The university acknowledges these failures but present-day Oxford is fundamentally different. This new academic year, well-received race awareness workshops have been introduced for freshers across the collegiate university, run by the students’ Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality.
Oxford colleges are promoting greater racial awareness in their recruitment, teaching and governance. At Brown’s own college, Christ Church, training in unconscious bias was introduced for college staff whose roles bring them into regular student contact and new governance arrangements to advance equality and diversity are under way.
Last year’s university-wide staff-student summit on race identified many action points that are now being implemented, including diversification of the voices studied in our curriculum. We are tracking our progress with regular wide-ranging surveys of how issues of race impact on students, and are introducing regular open forums for university-wide discussion of race equality and diversity issues. My own role as pro vice-chancellor and university advocate for diversity was created to ensure that equality and diversity are fundamental to all central university decisions, and I can assure Brown that concerns such as his are heard at Oxford’s highest levels.
Pro vice-chancellor and university advocate for diversity
University of Oxford
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