Josh White – Daily Mail Feb 22, 2021
Oxford undergraduates are being told that simply not being racist ‘isn’t good enough’ and they must be prepared to take action on the issue.
The revelation from a workshop at St Hugh’s College comes amid growing scrutiny about anti-racism training across the university, which critics say does not work.
While not mandatory, students were told they were ‘expected to make time’ to attend the It’s About Race event.
Under the heading ‘Be an anti-racist’ on one slide, they were told: ‘Are you racist? “No” isn’t a good enough answer.’
The slide stated: ‘We need to… stop thinking that injustice going on in the world isn’t to an extent are [sic] fault’, adding: ‘Stop being a non-racist and start being an anti-racist.’
Another slide encouraged a ‘commitment to action’, asking the question: ‘What is your individual contribution/commitment/pledge to tackle inequality and racism?’
Such courses are meant to question ingrained attitudes.
But last year an official report found strong evidence ‘that such training has no sustained impact on behaviour and may even be counter-productive’ – leading many government departments to scrap the practice.
Theresa May, Amal Clooney and Myanmar’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi are among former St Hugh’s students.
One member of the college who attended the workshop said: ‘I have been let down on several fronts since I’ve been here.
‘Worst of all is the consistent emphasis of how “racist” our institution is… it is a colossal waste of time and money and does nothing but prove that Oxford is increasingly out of touch with the real world. I have seen no inkling of racism since I have been here.’
A St Hugh’s spokesman said: ‘As with all training, we are evaluating and reviewing this course.’ Last week it was reported that other Oxford colleges were offering ‘unconscious bias’ courses, despite the Government’s scepticism.
Oxford’s grandest college, Christ Church, has had compulsory training on the topic in place for ‘several years’, while Boris Johnson’s alma mater, Balliol College, also offers it.
And students at Margaret Thatcher’s old college, Somerville, were recently told they had to achieve 100 per cent in a test on the topic, until the policy was challenged by campaigners.