Tertiary Update – Vol 23 No 7
Police are investigating a series of racist messages posted on anunofficial University of Auckland social media page, as staff and studentsvow to continue fighting racism, hate, and discrimination.With recent news highlighting instances of racism and a white supremacistmovement at the University of Auckland, the Tertiary Education Union TeHautū Kahurangi (TEU) urges university leadership to take the concerns ofthose affected seriously and to ensure a safe learning and workingenvironment for both students and staff.The threat of white supremacism and racism on campuses is not new, nor isit unique to Auckland University. However, the Auckland branch of the TEUis questioning the university’s response.After students made their fears and concerns public, University of Aucklandvice-chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon said "Claims of widespread white supremacy groups at the University of Auckland are utter nonsense."University of Auckland TEU Branch President Nicole Wallace says “thevice-chancellor’s public statement has been inadequate, dismissive, andhas served to minimise the experiences of those affected by racism andconcerned staff and students. It has also become clear that there is areal lack of understanding and awareness around what racism actuallyis, and the forms it can take. It’s not always overt, and doesn’talways involve direct threats of physical violence”“I have received a huge number of emails from staff members who havestudents who are experiencing these sorts of behaviour and are beingimpacted by it and are feeling quite isolated. They’re really carrying theburden of supporting these students themselves. They don’t feel like theyhave institutional support”.Members of the AUSA and the TEU University of Auckland Branch insist thatthere need to be concrete policies in place to deal with discrimination,and adequate time and training provided to those tasked with processingcomplaints. This would include guidelines so staff can identify racism anddiscrimination, who to report it to, and victims need to be heard andsupported throughout the process.AUSA has requested a working group be formed, along with TEU and seniorleadership, to collectively address the issue of racism and discriminationon campus, and broader concerns around the university’s culture.TEU University of Auckland Branch has formed an action group to respond tothese issues. According to Wallace, “if senior leaders won't providesufficient leadership and aren't going to lead change, then staff andstudents will step up to fill this gap”.
Also in the Tertiary Update this week: