Content Warning: Racial Abuse.
Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has not got the best record when it comes to racism amongst students. The most well-known case being in March 2018 in which white students were heard shouting ‘we hate the blacks!’ and ‘f**k the blacks!’ in a university accommodation during pre-drinks before a night out. This particular incident hit the national media and caused a huge nationwide scandal. The boys were subsequently banned from NTU grounds and expelled after an investigation was carried out.
Since the re-emergence of the BLM movement in early June 2020, NTU has seen a sharp increase in public cases of student racism on social media. The most well-known of which is a second year fashion student released a picture of herself in which she had covered her face in a black face mask and added the caption, ‘might wear this to ink next time for the RnB floor’. The original post and, others after the fact, have caused an uproar of thousands of retweets and comments from BAME NTU students, many calling for her to be immediately expelled from NTU for her vile racism.
A further post surfaced not long after of a first year law student having shared and commented on posts from well-known Brexit campaign group, Leave.EU. These posts included such disgusting phrases as ‘and they wonder why there’s stereotypes against them’, in reference to a Leave.EU post about the BLM protests, and ‘its gone from black lives matters, to blacks cause violence’. These posts have angered BAME students across NTU.
In response to these horrific cases of racism from students, NTU Labour Society wrote a letter, signed by over sixty other NTU societies, to NTSU and the NTU Executive Team calling on NTU to ‘act swiftly and meaningfully against all incidents of racism’ as to ‘prove itself’ to the BAME community at NTU. In the letter, concerns were raised that many BAME students would feel betrayed and, as a result, unsafe if NTU do not act swiftly on these cases of racism or in any way attempt to sweep them under the carpet.
A recent response to the letter from Vice-Chancellor Edward Peck may have reaffirmed that, ‘NTU does not tolerate racism’, however it did not fill NTU Labour’s BAME Officer with much hope as she made this statement:
“Racial harassment is a common occurrence for many members of the BAME community. Nottingham Trent has a responsibility to protect all students and staff from feeling unsafe, unwelcome or inferior, therefore the university must address the scale of the issue of institutional racism, and must protect students who have been a victim of racism. I can only hope NTU becomes a place where those who have been racially harassed can speak up safely with the knowledge that complaints will be taken seriously, and be effectively dealt with.”
These comments echo the thoughts of many BAME students across NTU, many are considerably concerned by the lack of public action taken against such cases.
The student body are planning further action by planning to coordinate a university wide call out for all BAME students, both current and former, to come forward with their experiences of racism in and around NTU. The campaign will focus on gathering stories and experiences from BAME students in order to show the Vice-Chancellor and the NTSU what life is really like for BAME students at NTU. Only once the leadership at NTU have been confronted with the reality of life at NTU for BAME communities will they have no other option than to listen and act on the demands of BAME students and staff.
Across the country similar campaigns and movements are forming at various educational institutions that have seen a comparable rise in racism and discrimination during this period. Concerns about inaction and instances of racism being swept under the carpet are not only an occurrence at NTU but nationwide. Only through collective action and the championing of BAME voices will change be achieved.
Photo credits from top to bottom Andrewrabbott, and Nottingham Trent University.