On behalf of the University of Sussex community, we would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, who were killed recently in the US, and to all those who have lost loved ones to police and institutional violence. Over the last few years, videos of Black people have been circulated showing those who have lost their lives after interactions with police officers. We must speak out. Black Lives Matter.

We cannot pretend that racism is only an issue in the United States. The UK is not innocent. Racism in all its forms is a pernicious evil that is pervasive here and globally. Whilst we are right to call for accountability and justice where Black people die prematurely after encounters with the police, it is our responsibility as a university to be clear that there can be no neutral ground towards racist practices wherever they are found, including in our own institution.

Sussex has tried since its foundation to contribute to creating a better world. Many of the leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa studied here, and we are proud of the scholarship that highlights racial injustice and the legacy of empire, a legacy which has contributed powerfully to the ongoing oppressions and inequalities facing Black people and people of colour.

In moving forward, we have to recognise uncomfortable truths in our own university. A lot of work needs to be done for the University of Sussex to become, and to be seen as, an institution that embodies its anti-racist values, requirements and obligations. We know that there are significant awarding gaps in many subjects between Black students and their white counterparts. We know, too, that many Black colleagues and students do not feel heard, valued or rewarded. This is not the University we should be. We must do better.

The Race Equality Charter team, which is led by the Provost, will be spearheading our efforts and actions, and will ensure that the University works towards embodying best practice in adopting an anti-racist approach to tackle institutional racism and racial inequality. We will do this by identifying and challenging the structural, cultural and other barriers, practices and discourses to achieving racial justice and equality within our institution. Over the coming weeks, The Race Equality Charter team will publish its terms of reference and how it intends to proceed.

This will require difficult conversations and critical self-reflection for all of us in the months and years ahead, in order to create a University we can be proud of.

Our own words in our Strategic Framework say: “If there was ever a time for a great university to stand on the sidelines, this isn’t it.”

Adam Tickell Saul Becker

Vice Chancellor Provost

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Saturday, 6 June 2020

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