School of Biology Open Discussion on Racism in Academia

The School held an online open discussion of racism in academia on Friday 9th Oct 2020. The aim of this School-wide event was to initiate an open conversation about the impact of racism, discrimination and bias on students and staff in academic settings. The event was jointly organized by BEDI and the BAME Biology team, and chaired by Brynne Stewart, the School President. In total, 114 people attended, and several shared their experiences of racism, prejudice, exclusion and micro-aggression within and outside the university. In addition, Kevin Laland (Minority Ethnic Champion) provided background data on BAME representation in the School, Sascha Hooker (BEDI chair) described some of the ethnicity-relevant actions that BEDI had implemented or were planning, and Frank Gunn-Moore (Head of School) voiced his thanks and support to those who had spoken. The discussion provided an opportunity for staff and students to listen to those directly impacted by racism and discrimination and provided a forum for suggestions for changes that could be implemented within the School. Those attending were struck by the emotion and passion of those who spoke, and commented that it had opened their eyes to the different forms of racism taking place within the University and the School, even to the extent of making them question their own behaviour. Others noted that it was rare for staff and students to be present together in a forum such as this, and voiced their appreciation that, irrespective of status, everyone’s opinion and experiences were treated equally, with dignity and respect. Further ethnicity-related events and discussions are being planned by the BAME Biology team.