Tertiary Update – Vol 23 No 7
Police are investigating a series of racist messages posted on an
unofficial University of Auckland social media page, as staff and students
vow to continue fighting racism, hate, and discrimination.
With recent news highlighting instances of racism and a white supremacist
movement at the University of Auckland, the Tertiary Education Union Te
Hautū Kahurangi (TEU) urges university leadership to take the concerns of
those affected seriously and to ensure a safe learning and working
environment for both students and staff.
The threat of white supremacism and racism on campuses is not new, nor is
it unique to Auckland University. However, the Auckland branch of the TEU
is questioning the university’s response.
After students made their fears and concerns public, University of Auckland
vice-chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon said “Claims of widespread white supremacy groups at the University of Auckland are utter nonsense.”
University of Auckland TEU Branch President Nicole Wallace says “the
vice-chancellor’s public statement has been inadequate, dismissive, and
has served to minimise the experiences of those affected by racism and
concerned staff and students. It has also become clear that there is a
real lack of understanding and awareness around what racism actually
is, and the forms it can take. It’s not always overt, and doesn’t
always involve direct threats of physical violence”
“I have received a huge number of emails from staff members who have
students who are experiencing these sorts of behaviour and are being
impacted by it and are feeling quite isolated. They’re really carrying the
burden of supporting these students themselves. They don’t feel like they
have institutional support”.
Members of the AUSA and the TEU University of Auckland Branch insist that
there need to be concrete policies in place to deal with discrimination,
and adequate time and training provided to those tasked with processing
complaints. This would include guidelines so staff can identify racism and
discrimination, who to report it to, and victims need to be heard and
supported throughout the process.
AUSA has requested a working group be formed, along with TEU and senior
leadership, to collectively address the issue of racism and discrimination
on campus, and broader concerns around the university’s culture.
TEU University of Auckland Branch has formed an action group to respond to
these issues. According to Wallace, “if senior leaders won’t provide
sufficient leadership and aren’t going to lead change, then staff and
students will step up to fill this gap”.
Also in the Tertiary Update this week: