Following consultation with a number of University members , the University Race Equality Task Force has proposed a full-time senior equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) leadership role be created , as well as a joint University-college committee for EDI matters. The Task Force also proposed the launch of a communications strategy focussed on anti-racism.
The Task Force also set out its list of proposals for EDI by grouping them in various different areas. These areas include “Staff Diversity”, “Student Diversity and Experience”, “Dealing with Racial Harassment”, “Research and Impact”, and “Responsibility and Accountability”. The measures proposed range from “short term actions to longer term strategies”.
The University provides some further detail to proposals for each action area. Under the section “Dealing with Racial Harassment”, the University states that measures include “an increased capacity for reporting and responding to instances of harassment”. Under “Culture and Community”, measures include “strengthening training and awareness activities”.
After another short period of consultation across the University, a more detailed strategy and business plan will be released at the end of the academic year. The action proposals will then need to be approved by the Council for them to go ahead.
The Race Equality Task Force was created in November 2020 with the aim of addressing “the under-representation at all levels at the University of those from Black and Minority Ethnic groups, and transform[ing] the experience of staff and students”.
In the 2020/21 academic year, the Task Force held a number of engagement activities with staff, students, and other stakeholders through open events, focus groups, and interviews. Findings from these events were published in a report in September 2021.
While the Task Force acknowledged that there has been a “significant focus” on race equality in recent years, “progress has been far too slow”.
Members of the University are still able to take part in the consultation via the Race Equality Task Force website. This consultation will close at 5pm on December 1 2021.
Co-Chair Martin Williams, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) of the University, stated: “Making meaningful and sustained change will take some time to achieve – but we are committed to making a difference as soon as possible. Making this kind of change at Oxford requires the support and commitment of the staff and students across the institution, and we are keen to hear the opinions of as many members of the University community as possible.”
Co-Chair Patricia Daley, Professor of the Human Geography of Africa, added: “The Task Force has already listened carefully to staff and students, and the proposals that we’re consulting on are designed to respond to what we heard. These are wide-ranging proposals, and I’m sure our staff and students will provide yet further positive insights over the course of the consultation.”