Attack on Warwick Student Proves Racism is “Very Real”

Image: Flickr//Nathan Wong

“Racism doesn’t exist in the world today!”

“No one is racist in the UK anymore!”

If you’re thinking either or both of the statements above, you must understand that you are incorrect.

Yesterday Faramade Ifaturoti, a student at Warwick University, was the victim of a vicious attack. Her food was branded with racist and dehumanising slurs, so she took to twitter to voice her horror, posting “Just entered the kitchen and look at what one of my flatmates has done. I am extremely disgusted @WarwickAccomm”.

 

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Image: Huffington Post

 

Warwick University issued a statement declaring that they are “investigating as a matter of urgency.” But why did it require “a Twitter escalation,” as Fara herself put it, for the university to respond?

The twitter trend- #WeStandWithFara – has since been started to support Fara, and to support any other brutally attacked victims who have had the same experience.

University is supposed to be a safe place. Students rely on the protected environments universities are supposed to provide in order to thrive and survive there. Nobody should face discrimination at university, especially not in 2016. Students of colour should not be made to feel any different that anyone else at university.

Fara is sadly not alone. I experienced discrimination when, after a 15-minute job interview at private accommodation in Manchester, I was asked if I had a had a valid visa to work in the UK since I was an international student. Was I asked this purely because I am not a white student? Then, when I told the interviewer that I was actually born and bred in London, she replied, “So that’s why you speak such good English!” This stereotype – that PoC cannot speak ‘good English’ – is highly offensive.

The I, too, am Oxford campaign launched several years ago had a collection of Oxford students of colour who describe daily struggles they encounter.

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Similarly, the I, too, am Cambridge campaign encouraged students to share their experiences of prejudice at university.

 

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In 2014, the University of York carried out a study for student newspaper York Vision and found that 1 in 10 students suffer racial discrimination. 50% of the affected students also claimed that they had witnessed racist behaviour.

Even at these top institutions, students are stereotyped purely because of their race.

Institutional racism can be expressed implicitly or explicitly; either way, it is still racism. By blaming Fara, or indeed any victim of racial discrimination, it shows how deep-rooted the real problem is. A victim should never be told how to “deal” with racism, not only because every case is different, but also because every victim has a different way of handling situations. The fact that Warwick University have supposedly had to deal with situations like this many times before just shows how problematic institutional racism is. With a zero-racism policy in place, all students should know that any action of racism will result in immediate expulsion. The fact that racial discrimination is still occurring makes it sound like victims will still be, and always be victims. If the penalty for such attacks is not as great as what it should be for any institution that has a zero-racism policy, racists will never stop. And we need them to stop

#WeStandWithFara, just as we stand with all students of colour who have and still do experience racism every day at university. We demand to see some real institutional change, and end the problem of racism at university. Ignorance, a lack of cultural awareness, and underexposure to diversity cannot be used as excuses for racial discrimination any longer. Change can only be accomplished if we work together; by identifying that racism is still a widespread problem at universities all over the country, we can set out together to fight this battle and win.


 

Untitled 1111Araddhna Patel is a 2nd year student at the University of Manchester reading Ancient History. She’s fluent in fangirl, an avid reader and writer, a productive procrastinator, a grammar enthusiast, a proud nerd, a Harry Potter aficionado, a lover of sarcasm, and an aspiring something… She’ll let you know what.

Araddhna blogs here and tweets here. 


 

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4 comments

  1. I am complete ly in agreement, something needs to be done and done soon!!!!!! I have been attacked for racism at university to and it isn’t right we be treated like this when we are all humans. All equal, all one. Peace to us all

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  2. This is a good article, I agree!! If we could just do something about it now.. poor Farra how she must be feeling 😦

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  3. Actually, it ‘proves’ nothing. You’d think budding journalists would have some awareness of measures of proof. The fact this case has NOT been reported to police (by Wednesday) rather *indicates* something else. Let’s press Warwick attendees to walk into a police station and report a crime.. Then we’ll see what sits behind this.

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    • The title quote “is very real” is taken from a tweet from the Fara’s twitter a few months ago, with the latest attack that has gained attention showing real proof of racism in a place she should feel safe. We believe what is most important is the girls safety, which only the university can handle. Reporting a flatmate to the police could be difficult, and put her in danger. Warwick Accommodation and the live in residential life tutor and team have a duty of care over students – as she has expressed concern previously yet nothing has been put in place, surely it is their concern to keep her safe. Moreover, as Warwick Anti-Racism has stated, this points to a larger problem that racism isn’t openly said to be banned/discouraged, which is a massive institutional problem. Best wishes, the Editors.

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