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Biology department equality displays repeatedly defaced

The Biology department’s EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) noticeboard and flags have been repeatedly defaced, according to emails sent by the department heads. An incident in early March targeting the Progress and Pride flags in the Zoology Research and Administration Building was followed by further instances in mid-April.

The initial email stated that the department was trying to identify the perpetrators, to whom the department promised disciplinary action. The second email described this behaviour as “frustrating and upsetting” and outlines a two-pronged plan in response.

Firstly, the department said that it will offer those responsible a confidential meeting “to try and understand their motives and to offer support”. Since “it may be possible that those responsible do not realise how hurtful and harmful their behaviour is.”

However, if those responsible did not volunteer themselves for a confidential mediation, the department warned that an investigation to identify them would be underway.

Defacing the EDI noticeboards is unacceptable because it is a form of harassment, according to the email. It further stated: “The university has wide-ranging powers to act against those who are found guilty of it, and we will follow university policy and procedures. In extreme cases, the university can decide to discontinue students from their course of study or terminate the employment of staff, with lesser punishments including removing responsibilities and formal warnings.”

A University spokesperson told Cherwell: “The University is committed to freedom of speech and is clear that within the bounds set by law, all voices or views which any member of our community considers relevant should be given the chance of a hearing. As stated in our Equality Policy, we are also committed to a culture of inclusion in which all members are valued, listened to and empowered to participate fully in the life of the University.”

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