The principal of Dundee University has apologised following a report into racism, saying discrimination will not be tolerated.
A survey by the university’s racial equality charter has revealed “prominent concerns” over racism and discrimination at the school.
Hundreds of students and staff, from both white and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, were surveyed and the results were published on Monday.
Questions related to student experience, the university’s curriculum and its response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Pay them permanently to return to their homelands’
Many of the responses to the survey were supportive of the school’s BAME population, however some have raised concerns about racism in the school.
In response to a statement about racism on campus, 24% of BAME students agreed they had experienced or witnessed some form of abuse while at the university.
But one white student who responded said: “Pay for them to permanently return to their homelands.”
Another said: “There are no deep structural and systematic racial inequalities that exist in the University of Dundee.
“If non-whites don’t like it they should leave the country.”
Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the university, said the results were, disturbing, shocking and uncomfortable.
40% of students experience racism off-campus
Overall, 40% of BAME students and 34% of BAME staff reported experiencing or witnessing discrimination of some kind while off-campus.
Only 8% of white staff and 11% of white students claimed the same.
One staff member of a BAME background claimed to have been “spat at in the street” and another said they had reported various incidents of racism in the past and gotten nowhere.
Students also called out the lack of diversity in their curriculum, with one DJCAD student saying that the “whitewashing” of their course had led to others creating art which they deemed offensive.
Another student claimed that the lack of diversity had caused an absence of black lecturers during their student experience, saying: “There is not much diversity among the staff.
“I have yet to be taught by any black lecturers.”
A large number of Asian students also shared their shocking experiences with racism, which they believe had been heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
One claimed that they had experienced more discrimination after the pandemic than before, while another said that they had been coughed at and spat on.
They said: “There were three of us (Asian decent: Two Chinese and one Indian) wearing masks and crossing the road towards Dundee train station.
“A car stopped at the traffic light and an individual in his 40s/50s lowered his window to make loud coughing noises and to spit at us.
“Moreover, he began shouting us to go back home.”
‘All Scots are white’
While many are in favour of increased action against racism at the school, some have claimed that the university already does too much for it’s BAME population in the name of diversity.
One white student responded: “The University of Dundee must make Scottish students its priority and all Scots are white.”
Another wrote: “Absolutely rightly, my course DOES NOT consider the contributions of, impact on and opinions of diverse cultures, including race and ethnicity issues.”
One student also said the university should drop its links to the Black Lives Matter movement.
They wrote: “BLM is nothing but an anti-Scottish anti-white movement and should not be tolerated on campus.
“Anyone openly expressing support for it should be disciplined.”
University apologises to victims of racism
After the report was published, the university sent out an official apology to those who have experienced racism while studying there.
Professor Gillespie said: “I apologise on behalf of the university to every member of our community who has been a victim of racism while living and studying here.
“It is unacceptable in our society that people should experience this, and we must show zero tolerance of such attitudes and behaviour.
“The results of this survey show that problems that exist across much of our society are also problems within our university community, the city and the surrounding area.
“There is much in the report that makes for disturbing, shocking, and uncomfortable reading.
“My absolute commitment is that this survey must be the start of a process of acceptance of the issues which are laid out in these results, and lead to greater actions to make the university, the city and Scotland a truly fair and equitable place for all, regardless of race.
“The university has many policies in place regarding racial equality, diversity and inclusion.
“We have taken positive steps over many years to ensure fairness and a welcoming environment for all. The results of this survey show that it has not been enough. We must do more.”