Staff in humanities faculties across Oxford have called for the hiring of a race champion to assist in the dismantling of systemic issues at Oxford, internal documents have revealed.
As a response to the murder of George Floyd – a response seen as lacklustre by many students – academics proposed the recruitment of an expert to advocate for change and provide input into faculty policies. This proposed champion would also serve as a way for students to “inform [staff] better about the experiences they are having”.
One of the possible failings that could be directed at the University in this field is its delaying of a decision on whether to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College. Rhodes was a noted imperialist who would supposedly bring pocketfuls of diamonds back from Africa to college with him while studying at Oxford, according to the historian Robert K. Massie. Despite repeated student campaigns, that nothing has yet been done will be cause for concern to many. This is in addition to the stance of All Souls College on the statue of slave owner Christopher Codrington in the library which formerly shared his name.
Staff expressed that a ‘race champion’ wouldn’t be used “in order to make formal complaints about the faculties, but rather to ‘bring about culture change’”. This person could possibly oversee a review of “recruitment, research, teaching and admissions”, with a salary coming from a Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fund.
Although there has been no such appointment as yet, some members of staff continue to push for the role , as well as the invitation of “non-white speakers” to advise on “anti-racist pedagogy and research”.
Some action has been seen already from these departments – the music faculty has discussed decolonisation of the curriculum, while the history department released a report investigating contested legacies. Across the university, there has been the creation of a Race Equality Task Force, and St Hugh’s College recently ran a Diversity Trust workshop on race for both undergraduates and postgraduates.
Image Credits: Clay Banks on Unsplash