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Universities 'more concerned about reputation than racism'

RACISM: Shakira Martin says universities are not taking racism seriously

SHAKIRA MARTIN, the president of the National Union of Students, has said that universities are “more concerned about their reputation than the wellbeing of their students” when it comes to racism.

Martin, who made the comments on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show, said she receives daily calls from students reporting racism.

She claimed that institutions are not doing enough to tackle the issue.

"They're not prioritising it and taking it seriously... universities are more concerned about their reputation than the wellbeing of their students,” Martin said.

She added: "I speak to students on a daily basis that tell me that they have been called the N-word or been discriminated against because of their colour or not let into a club because of their race."

Several racists incidents at UK universities have made the headlines recently after being shared on social media.

Last month, Rufaro Chisango, a student at Nottingham Trent University filmed footage of students’ chanting “we hate the blacks” outside her dorm room. The video sparked outrage when it was shared on Twitter. At the University of Exeter, five students were suspended after derogatory messages posted in a student WhatsApp group chat were exposed.

A group of students at the University of Exeter are demanding urgent action following a series of on campus racist incidents.

Chris Omanyondo, Arsalan Motavali and Roman Ibra, all 21 and students at the university, told the Guardian: “These incidents are happening all the time but they are not all visible. There will be other group chats and other incidents of intimidation but we will not always see the prejudice.”

Omanyondo said: “We haven’t chosen to put ourselves in the spotlight, but when racism happened to us we felt like we had to take up the mantle. We know there are others out there suffering with no one to talk to, nowhere to go, and we speak on behalf of them too. Now, surely, it’s up to the UK’s chancellors, who are shaping future leaders, to do the same.”

There are currently no figures for the the overall number of racist incidents reported at universities in the UK. An NUS report into racism revealed that one in six black students said they had experienced racism at their university.

Labour MP David Lammy, who is also the former universities minister, said: "Universities have to redouble their efforts to support students on campus and have to have a zero-tolerance approach to anything that comes anywhere near racial hatred."

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