Students Staff
University of Essex

July 22, 2020

All staff and student update from our Chair of Council and Vice-Chancellor

Dear staff and students,

On 17 June following consultation with the Chair of Council, the Vice-Chancellor sent an email (which is published as a blog) to let you know about the work that is underway to ensure that the experience of University staff and students lives up to our commitment to be an inclusive community. We are now writing to update you on the actions that we have been taking to address racism within our University.

The Tackling Racism Working Group, established in early June, planned and oversaw an initial listening phase to gather the views of our community. The Group has since prepared reports which have been discussed by the Resources Committee of University Council (on 22 June), by the University’s Senate (on 24 June), by the University Steering Group (USG) (on 30 June) and by the University’s governing body, Council (on 9 July).

The initial listening phase ended on 19 June. The Working Group has been in touch to thank our community for the views expressed and to set out next steps and we too wanted to express our gratitude to all those who shared their lived experiences and their ideas about how we should take this work forward.

We also wanted to let you know that at its meeting on 9 July, Council made an explicit commitment that the University will continue to listen to the views of our community in relation to how we tackle racism. We will hold ourselves to account for making progress to change our culture by taking actions that will have both immediate and long-term impact. Council approved all of the initial actions that the Working Group proposed including:

  • Identifying, agreeing and ensuring delivery of actions that will be taken quickly and that have the potential to make a real and immediate difference to the experiences of Black students and staff.
  • Undertaking a detailed analysis of the extensive feedback that we have received from our community and developing a detailed, fully costed, time-specific Anti-Racism Action Plan setting out short, medium, and long term actions (with final reports going to USG, Resources Committee of Council, Senate and Council at their first meetings in the autumn term).
  • Immediately recognising (both financially and in non-financial terms) the contribution of the Black students who are actively involved in delivery of this work as members of the Working Group.
  • Also recognising the contribution of staff involved in the Working Group and in particular, of one or two members who will have time specifically allocated to lead this work (alongside dedicated central leadership).
  • Allocating professional project management and coordination support for this work and drawing on the University’s qualitative and quantitative data analysis and reporting expertise.
  • Seeking independent external expertise to help us shape our Anti-Racism Action Plan.

We have been determined to make rapid progress but we know that these initial actions are simply first steps in achieving the scale of change that members of our community rightly expect from us. We are determined to ensure that we maintain this initial momentum, build on the current levels of engagement and discussion, and take decisive actions that lead to a real and sustained difference to the lived experience of our black students and staff.

Jane Hamilton
Chair of Council

Anthony Forster

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