Antiracist Sussex: A Pledge
Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Friday, 26 November 2021
This week (23 November) the Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor for Culture, Equality and Inclusion, Kevin Hylton, wrote to all staff. You can read the email in full below:
Since joining Sussex in the summer, I’ve had extensive discussions with colleagues and students from around the campus where I have listened and gained a better understanding of the issues relating to racial equality.
I’ve also consulted with members of the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment team (RECSAT) who oversee our work towards an application for an award under the Race Equality Charter (REC).
And as I now approach the end of my tenure as Interim PVC for Culture, Equality and Inclusion and executive lead for race equality, I’m really pleased to be in a position to share our Pledge for an Antiracist Sussex which will ensure our commitment to antiracism will become more visible in the everyday experience of the University and the culture of our community.
The pledge has been the result of collaboration and I’ve appreciated the support of the University Executive Group and others, including David Ruebain who referenced the pledge in his Culture, Equality and Inclusion update last week.
As a community we need to provide the space to keep these conversations going in a constructive way so we can continue to make progress.
My last day at Sussex will be 3 December and I would welcome you to share your thoughts with me and our now permanent PVC for Culture, Equality and Inclusion David Ruebain on this pledge, what it means for Sussex and your role in turning this into action.
The University of Sussex recognises that racial disparities and racism have historically pervaded institutions like ours. We pledge that we will seek to be antiracist by making all necessary changes to the education, research and administrative activities of the University. Through diligent, sustained antiracist work we will move towards being an inclusive university that genuinely celebrates and reflects diversity.
We recognise that racism is entrenched in UK society and manifests in everyday individual and institutional processes and behaviours.
Racism is also pernicious in UK higher education and with its consequential disparities requires a systematic response to ensure that we all benefit from a world class university experience. Universities UK (UUK), a collective of 140 universities, conducted a study into BAME student attainment at UK universities (#CLOSINGTHEGAP, 2019) and found a 13% gap between the likelihood of white students and students from BAME backgrounds receiving a 1st or a 2:1 degree.
Similarly, according to the Universities and College Union (UCU 2019), ethnicity is a significant factor in staff pay gaps as BAME staff are less likely to hold senior positions and more likely to be on a lower salary than their white counterparts.
As an institution, we must actively play our part in dismantling the systems and structures that lead to racial inequality, disadvantage and under-representation and ensure that our commitment to anti-racism becomes transparent in the culture of the University and the everyday experiences of our community.
The University of Sussex pledges that we will seek to be Antiracist. We recognise that we need to be more proactive in challenging ideas, systems and structures and that it is not enough to be simply not racist. This pledge augments our approach as described in our Inclusive Sussex and a Better University for a Better World strategies and will be evidenced in our policies and corporate strategies. We will address issues such as negative, race-related aspects of the Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic (BAME) staff and student experience; the BAME awarding gap; and BAME staff pay gaps.
Racism and racial disparities can present in our university in various ways. As a result of this Pledge we will seek to improve: Eurocentrism in curricula; racial disparities in the research, learning and working environment; racial harassment and discrimination; BAME representation and career progression in academic and professional service roles; and racial literacy and competencies in staff and student bodies.
These disparities are consequences of historic societal and institutional processes that are systemic and often complex. Addressing them will require a diversity of thought, proactivity and long-term commitment.
Through diligent antiracist work, we can confidently move towards being an inclusive university that genuinely celebrates diversity.
Our Vision for an Antiracist Sussex includes but is not limited to:
- A University Executive Group committed to antiracism, and related personal and professional development.
- A Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Culture, Equality and Inclusion as executive lead on race equality and antiracism
- Race Equality Action Plan: as we work toward achieving the Advance HE Race Equality Charter Mark we will continue to review antiracism commitments in our Schools and professional services.
- Antiracism training and development opportunities for staff and students.
- Promotion of our Report and Support tool: to ensure our community is supported and protected if anyone experiences bullying, harassment, a hate incident, sexual violence, domestic abuse, or discrimination.
- Review, revise and debias recruitment and promotion systems to make them antiracist and anti-discriminatory.
- Eliminate ethnicity pay gaps and improve workforce representation.
- Revise the structure of equality, diversity and inclusion work to ensure that race, and antiracism work is adequately resourced and sustainable.
- Work toward a more diverse and inclusive curriculum that inspires and reflects our University community.
- Eliminate the BAME degree awarding gap.
- Develop a communications plan that improves the transparency of the work on race equality.
With best wishes
Interim Pro Vice-Chancellor for Culture, Equality and Inclusion