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The University of Cambridge has announced its plans for a wide-ranging plan of action to improve racial equality and inclusion at the university.

I want Cambridge to be a leader in defending equality and fostering inclusion.

Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor

The University launched a BAME staff network alongside a new website detailing all the policies, procedures, support and reporting options around race equality, at www.race-equality.admin.cam.ac.uk/

Longer term, the Equality and Diversity team is developing diverse recruitment guidelines to help attract more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff.

A new network of Discrimination and Harassment contacts – at least one for each Cambridge College – will advise students and staff who’ve experienced harassment.

The contacts will champion race equality within each College, as well as advising staff and students who have experienced harassment on reporting options, and referring them to specialists for help.

The University has already updated the wording around reporting procedures for harassment, bullying, discrimination, sexual violence, abuse, coercive behaviours or related misconduct so that it is clear that this includes matters related to race and racism.

Though the policies and procedures always applied to all forms of harassment, it is hoped that making the wording more explicit on the University website will raise awareness of the reporting options and support available.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said: “Our University should be free from racism, discrimination, prejudice and harassment. Achieving this objective requires an honest acknowledgement of the detrimental impact that racism can have on the entire collegiate community. 

“Racism is unacceptable. It undermines societies, it divides communities, and it prevents people from coming together with a shared purpose. It affects our staff and students by engendering feelings of isolation and dejection.

“I want Cambridge to be a leader in defending equality and fostering inclusion. Our own research tells us that we have much work to do to improve the experience of many of our BAME staff and students, to diversify our recruitment and our curriculum, to ensure that our courses are inclusive, and to achieve greater representation of BAME staff in senior leadership and in governance structures.

“The responsibility lies with each of us to robustly challenge racism, and to create an environment that is more conducive to openly discussing race-related issues. Our collegiate University can only bring about change through a collective and concerted effort from all members of the community.

“I am very heartened by – and fully supportive of – the University’s bold and decisive plan of action to address these difficult and complex matters.”

The University has identified six key priorities for its Race Equality Plan of Action:

1. Embed the responsibility for race equality across the University institutions

2. Diverse recruitment and student admission

3. BME representation at senior levels and in governance structures 

4. Improving the support for and experience of BME students and staff at the University 

5. Diversification of the curriculum 

6. Bringing about culture change  
 

A number of activities and initiatives are already in process to support these priorities.