More than half of UK university students have witnessed racism and close to a third have personal experiences of racism, a new survey by student forum The Student Room (TSR) has found.
These incidents commonly take the form of verbal abuse, off-hand “casual” remarks and exclusion from social events, The Independent reported.
Mhairi Underwood, community manager at The Student Room, said: “In 2018, it’s sad to see the proliferation of racism young people experience on a regular basis.”
“The impact these instances can have on students are serious, especially while also navigating the often stressful waters of university life.”
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One student spoke about the culture at university: “Lots of people black up for fancy dress. An African student has racist jokes made about them having Aids.”
Another commented that making fun of accents is “very common”, adding that “One person said about my long braids, ‘I wish I had hair like yours so I could sit at home and smoke weed all day’”.
The findings come in the wake of a recent spate of racist incidents in universities nationwide. Earlier this week, three students at Exeter University demanded UK universities for urgent and systemic change in their handling of prejudice after a spate of racist incidents which have reportedly taken place on campus, in student societies and online.
At Nottingham Trent University, two male students were arrested after a black student captured them on video chanting “We hate the blacks” outside her bedroom door.
Sheffield Hallam University is also investigating the case of a rotten banana reportedly thrown at a black graduate student while he was watching a game between his alma mater Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield.
TSR’s poll also found that one in 10 have encountered racist incidents on a daily basis and more than half of students who witnessed racism or personally experienced it did nothing about it.
Underwood suggested more empowerment for “every person to play their part by calling out instances of casual racism”.
“By creating a dialogue around what is and isn’t OK when it comes to those off-hand comments or ‘jokes’, we can tackle the prejudices which clearly still exist in our communities”
Close to three in five students believe their university could do more to tackle racism on campus, the survey found.
The poll of 1,000 students was launched on 23 March and ended this week.