Students say university handling of racist incident “incompetent”

Update 15/04/2016: The University has since disputed claims that Ifaturoti’s complaints weren’t treated with urgency.

Peter Dunn, Director of press and policy at Warwick, has said “as soon as Warwick Accommodation were alerted to the matter, they too immediately sought out both the student and the Deputy Warden.”

The University has also stated that alternative accommodation was offered as soon as the incident was registered.

In response, Warwick’s Student newspaper has launched an investigation into racism at the university and is encouraging students to come forward with their experiences – there survey can be found here.

Earlier this week, Faramade Ifaturoti, a first-year biomedical student at the University of Warwick, reported racist graffiti found on campus.

She tweeted a photo of some bananas with racial slurs written on them which had been left in the kitchen of her student accommodation, saying: “look at what one of my flatmates has done. I’m extremely disgusted”.

After the story was picked up by several media outlets, the university responded by announcing an investigation into the incident “as a matter of urgency”.

However, students have since complained that the university’s response was too slow.

Mems Ayinla, co-president of Warwick Anti-Racism Society, labelled the university’s handling of the incident as “incompetent” and went on to say:

“As a black student, I don’t feel safe in some of my spaces and we need to make sure there is a zero-tolerance of all types of incidents like this.”

Warwick Students’ Union has released the following statement:

“Warwick SU has a zero-tolerance policy on racist behaviour. We unequivocally condemn this shocking and disgusting act, which should clearly have no place in either our University or society at large.We have reached out to the student affected by this episode and have contacted the University to offer further support. Should a formal complaint be raised regarding a specific individual’s conduct, the SU will of course treat it as a matter for urgent disciplinary action.”

While this appears to be an isolated incident, Ifaturoti has said that “this is not the first time something like this has happened” and in February tweeted: “Racism is real. Especially in this Warwick”.

A petition from Warwick Anti-Racism Society states: “Racism is not being dealt with on campus effectively, as these acts occur throughout the academic year, every year.”

These accusations of widespread racism are deeply worrying, as students should not feel marginalised on campus, and the university authorities must take reports of racism seriously and discipline the perpetrators.

In a statement, the university has reaffirmed its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and encourages students affected by racism to contact Student Support Services.

We echo these calls, and would urge all other students who have experienced racist abuse to report it to the university.

Student Rights will keep a close eye on any further developments and report any updates.

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