The University of York is “an environment that encourages hate speech, discrimination and racism,” student representatives for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students told The Tab this week.
Responding to an allegation of racist language written by a Philosophy student to a black student radio presenter, the elected BAME Officers of the University of York Students’ Union, Nayomi Karthigesu and Hannah-Joseph Asikhia, told The Tab that they were unsurprised by the incident’s occurrence.
The BAME Officers, elected last year in the annual YUSU Officer Elections, further commented that an instance of alleged racism such as this indicated that “York has a long way to progress.”
According to Karthigesu and Asikhia, “people still sing [the n-word] when it is played in the club and throw it about in daily use showing what gross ignorance is still prevalent in what you would consider to be an ‘educated environment’.”
“The truth is, this university is an environment that encourages hate speech, discrimination and racism,” the BAME Officers concluded.
Alex Urquhart, the President of YUSU, condemned the incident of alleged racism in a Facebook post yesterday.
“I speak on behalf of the Union when I say I am appalled to see this racist language used and totally condemn the behaviour,” Urquhart wrote on Facebook.
“The Union works hard to promote an inclusive environment and welcome students from diverse backgrounds, and part of this is ensuring these incidents are handled extremely seriously. Hate speech is not acceptable on this campus, and I am confident that we will see a swift and strong response.”
The Yorker approached Alex Urquhart to comment on Karthigesu and Asikhia’s comments on the university environment, but no response was forthcoming prior to publication.
A University of York spokesperson told The Yorker:
The University has a zero-tolerance policy towards racism. Any student who is found to have breached the University’s code of conduct will face disciplinary measures and possible police action. The University celebrates and values diversity. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy sets out how the University is creating a positive environment which is fair, welcoming and inclusive.
Nayomi Karthigesu has previously criticised the election of a white student to the role of President of the Students’ Union in a controversial opinion piece for York Vision last term.
“For a University filled with such a diverse range of people,” she wrote at the time, “it seems our student union is dominated by a worrying minority who trade on their race and privilege to attain almost certain electoral victory.”
Karthigesu’s comments were published in print days after her election to the role of BAME Officer, a position she would formally begin holding with Asikhia at the end of the academic term.