Collective duty to address racism

Statement from Professor Crichton Lang, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of the Highlands and Islands:

 

In recent weeks, we have experienced a cultural and political climate that has increased the profile of racism in society, whether as anti-Chinese stereotypes around COVID, or online scenes of violence against black citizens.  Racist rhetoric is gathering momentum and we have a duty to proactively address this together. 

History has taught us that racism is not specific to ‘now’: systemic injustices and victimisation, as well as more casual forms of discrimination, have disproportionately affected people of colour and many other marginalised identities for generations.  It is critical that we engage and harness current momentum to push together across the region and society to counter these trends.

As a key organisation covering the largest geographical area of any campus-based university or college in the UK and the largest student population in Scotland, the University of the Highlands and Islands and all of our academic partners want to state our commitment to exert our influence, and by extension the influence of all students and staff, to achieve a fairer institution and region for everyone. 

Most modern racism is not consciously perpetrated but is embedded in assumptions about different cultures in policies, processes and attitudes: many of our institutions have been built on foundations that were laid without a single Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) voice present.

Living in a remote area, it can be difficult to appreciate the full impact of racism on those affected: mainstream news can seem a long way from us. To progress race equality meaningfully, ‘not being racist’ is simply not enough.

We need to challenge ourselves and others, exerting our privileges to actively influence change, proactively rebuilding major aspects of society to ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard at a senior level.  Our university partnership wants to enable these conversations to take place.

What we will do next

Feedback shows the need to directly involve BAME and other marginalised voices in development of our policies, courses and strategic objectives.  Recent correspondence from HISA and our postgraduate research community make some practical suggestions which we can adopt into our existing equality work, in partnership with BAME communities and allies and in line with Equality and Human Rights Commission, Advance-HE and Scottish Government objectives.

Already, feedback has been very valuable in demanding enhanced opportunities for diverse voices to feed into our race-equality work.  As such we will design and circulate an anonymous survey in coming weeks, to ensure that our work reflects the widest possible experiences and suggestions.

The survey will ask about BAME experiences, as well as those of other equality characteristics, eg gender, disability, age, religion and sexuality.  Anonymity will assure responders that they can express themselves as openly as possible.

We will also produce a full response to individual points raised, advising of work already planned, underway or awaiting further development, and inviting collaboration from staff and students.  These will relate to topics including:

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission racial harassment report: implementing guidelines
  • Unconscious bias training provision: delivery, and building internal provision
  • Revised complaints procedure, including specific race and equality contexts
  • Data and feedback collection for equality impact assessments

Ways to contact us/ get involved

As well as the staff and student surveys, you can contact our equality and diversity advisor, Stuart Hall, or speak to your relevant local academic partner representative,  if you would like to contribute to discussions about our race equality agenda and make our university partnership as inclusive as it possibly can be. 

If you feel you are experiencing misconduct on grounds of race, or any other motivation, students should contact student services colleagues at your home academic partner or push the Red Button. Staff can raise issues through their line manager or local personnel representative as appropriate. Academic partners will clarify the channels of communication locally to discuss concerns. 

Once again, I would like to express that the university partnership stands in solidarity with our Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues, as well as those who have safely and responsibly found ways to protest and influence real change. We look forward to working collectively against racism in all its forms and will be in contact shortly to discuss next steps for how we can do this meaningfully together.

Many thanks

Professor Crichton Lang

Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of the Highlands and Islands

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Oileanach chòir

Sna seachdainean seo chaidh, dh’fhiosraich sinn àrainneachd chultarach is poilitigeach a thug barrachd follaiseachd do ghràin-chinnidh sa chomann-shòisealta, biodh sin air chruth ghnàth-ìomhaighean nàimhdeil ris na Sìonaich an co-cheangal ri COVID, no seallaidhean air loidhne de dh’fhòirneart an aghaidh shaoranaich dhubha.  Tha seanchas gràine-cinnidh a’ dol an treasad agus tha dleasnas againn dol an grèim ri seo gu for-ghnìomhach le chèile. 

Is e leasan na h-eachdraidh nach e gnothach a bhuineas ris an latha an-diugh a-mhàin a th’ ann an gràin-chinnidh: tha ana-cothroman is droch-dhìol siostamail, cho math ri seòrsaichean nas tuiteamaiche de leathachas, a’ toirt buaidh neo-chothromach air daoine datha is iomadh fèin-aithne iomallaichte eile o chionn nan ginealaichean.  Tha e èiginneach cudromach gun cuir sinn an grèim an roid a th’ ann an-dràsta is gun dèan sinn feum dhith gus am put sinn le chèile air feadh na sgìre agus a’ chomainn-shòisealta an aghaidh nan aomaidhean seo.

Mar phrìomh bhuidheann a tha a’ toirt a-steach na sgìre as motha a th’ aig oilthigh no colaiste sam bith a tha stèidhichte air àrainn san RA agus an t-sluaigh as motha de dh’oileanaich ann an Albainn, tha Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean agus na com-pàirtichean acadaimigeach againn air fad ag iarraidh cur an cèill cho dealasach is a tha sinn ar buaidh fhèin, agus a’ sgaoileadh a-mach à sin buaidh an luchd-obrach is nan oileanach air fad, a chur an grèim, gus am bi stèidheachd is sgìre nas cothromaiche againn do a h-uile duine. 

Chan ann a dh’aon ghnothach a nithear a’ mhòrchuid de leth-bhreith chinneadail an latha an-diugh, ach tha i freumhaichte ann an ro-bheachdan mu dhiofar chultaran ann am poileasaidhean, pròiseasan is seasamhan-inntinn: chaidh mòran de na stèidheachdan againn a thogail air bunaitean a chaidh a leagail gun aon ghuth idir a bhith an làthair às leth dhaoine Dubha, Àisianaich is mhion-shluaghan cinneachail (BAME).

Agus sinn a’ fanachd ann an sgìre iomallach, faodaidh e bhith doirbh tuigse a bhith againn air làn bhuaidh gràine-cinnidh orrasan air a bheil i a’ bualadh: faodaidh coltas fad às a bhith air naidheachdan a’ phrìomh shrutha. Airson co-ionannachd cinnidh adhartachadh ann an dòigh bhrìoghmhor, chan fhoghain e idir dìreach a bhith ‘gun leth-bhreith chinneadail’.

Feumaidh sinn dùbhlan a thoirt dhuinn fhèin agus do chàch, a’ cur nam prìbhleidean againn an grèim gus an toir sinn buaidh gu gnìomhach air atharrachadh, agus sinn ag ath-thogail eileamaidean cudromach den chomann-shòisealta gu for-ghnìomhach gus an cluinnear guth a h-uile duine aig ìre àrd.  Tha com-pàirteachas an oilthigh againn ag iarraidh comasachadh gun tachair na còmhraidhean seo.

An ath rud a nì sinn

Tha beachdan a fhuaras a’ leigeil fhaicinn gu bheil feum guthan BAME agus bhuidhnean iomallaichte eile a thoirt a-steach dìreach ann a bhith a’ dealbhadh nam poileasaidhean, nan cùrsaichean is nan amasan ro-innleachdach againn.  Tha fios a fhuaras o chionn ghoirid o HISA agus a’ choimhearsnachd rannsachaidh iar-cheum againn a’ toirt mholaidhean prataigeach as urrainn dhuinn gabhail riutha san obair co-ionannachd làithrich againn, ann an com-pàirteachas ri coimhearsnachdan BAME agus an caidreabhaich agus a rèir amasan a’ Choimisein airson Co-ionannachd is Chòirichean Daonna, Advance-HE agus Riaghaltas na h-Alba.

Bha na beachdan a fhuaras glè luachmhor cheana ann a bhith ag iarraidh chothroman nas fheàrr guthan iol-ghnèitheach a bhith a’ beathachadh na h-obrach againn air co-ionannachd cinnidh.  A thaobh sin bidh sinn a’ dealbhadh is a’ cur mun cuairt suirbhidh neo-ainmeach sna seachdainean ri tighinn, gus am bi an obair againn stèidhichte air na fiosrachaidhean is na molaidhean as fharsainge a ghabhas.

Faighnichidh an suirbhidh mu fhèin-fhiosrachaidhean dhaoine BAME, cho math ris an fheadhainn a bhuineas ri feartan co-ionannachd eile, m.e. gnè, ciorram, aois, creideamh agus gnèitheachd.  Leis nach cuirear ainmean ris, faodaidh luchd-freagairt a bhith air an socair is iad a’ cur am beachdan an cèill cho fosgarra is a ghabhas.

Cuiridh sinn a-mach cuideachd freagairt iomlan air na puingean fa leth a bhios air an togail, a’ toirt fios mu obair a tha sa bheairt, no a tha a’ dol cheana no a tha a’ feitheamh air tuillidh leasachaidh, agus ag iarraidh co-obrachadh o luchd-obrach is oileanaich.  Buinidh iad seo ri cuspairean a ghabhas a-steach:

  • Aithisg a’ Choimisein airson Co-ionannachd is Chòirichean Daonna air sàrachadh cinneadail: iùl a thaobh cur-an-gnìomh
  • Ullachadh trèanaidh air claon-bhreith neo-fhiosrach: liubhairt, agus ullachadh in-mheadhanach a thogail
  • Modh-obrach ath-leasaichte airson ghearanan, a’ gabhail a-steach cho-theacsaichean cinnidh is co-ionannachd sònraichte
  • Cruinneachadh dàta is fios air ais airson mheasaidhean buaidh air co-ionannachd

Dòighean air fios a chur ar n-ionnsaigh / pàirt a ghabhail

Cho math ris na suirbhidhean do luchd-obrach is oileanaich, faodaidh sibh fios a chur a dh’ionnsaigh a’ chomhairlich co-ionannachd is iol-ghnèitheachd againn, Stuart Hall, no bruidhinn ris an riochdaire bhointealach sa chom-pàirtiche acadaimigeach ionadail agaibh, nam bu toil leibh cur ri còmhraidhean mun chlàr-ghnothaich co-ionannachd cinnidh againn agus com-pàirteachas an oilthigh againn a dhèanamh cho in-ghabhalach is as urrainn dha bhith. 

Ma tha sibh den bheachd gu bheil droch-iomchar ga dhèanamh oirbh air tàilleabh cinnidh, no air adhbhar sam bith eile, bu choir oileanaich fios a chur a dh’ionnsaigh cho-oibrichean sheirbheisean do dh’oileanaich sa chom-pàirtiche acadaimigeach anns a bheil sibh air ur suidheachadh no le bhith a’ bruthadh air a’ Phutan Dhearg. Faodaidh luchd-obrach cùisean a thogail tron t-sreath-stiùiriche no an riochdaire luchd-obrach ionadail aca a rèir mar a bhios iomchaidh. Bheir com-pàirtichean acadaimigeach soilleireachadh air na seanailean conaltraidh ionadail airson bruidhinn air cùisean cùraim. 

A-rithist, bu toil leam cur an cèill gu bheil com-pàirteachas an oilthigh a’ seasamh nan co-oibrichean againn a tha Dubh, Àisianach is bho mhion-shluaghan cinneachail, cho math riuthasan a fhuair dòighean gu sàbhailte, cùramach air fianais a thogail agus buaidh a thoirt air fìor atharrachadh. Tha sinn a’ dèanamh fiughair ri bhith a’ co-obrachadh an aghaidh gràin-chinnidh de a h-uile seòrsa, agus cuiridh sinn fios gu goirid gus am bi còmhradh againn air na h-ath cheuman a thaobh mar a nì sinn seo ann an dòigh bhrìoghmhor le chèile.

Mòran taing

An t-Àrd-Ollamh Crichton Lang

Prionnsapal is Iar-Sheansalair, Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean