This week’s reports of racism on Irish campuses brought the extent and severity of racism in Irish universities – and how it mars the college experience of many students – into the limelight.
From outright discrimination and prejudice to microaggressions, the stories told in the article were harrowing.
Trinity’s response to allegations of racism on its campus was largely commendable. Clodagh Brook, Trinity’s associate vice-provost for equality, diversity and inclusion, did not shy away from the problem, saying that College “recognise much more needs to be done now to tackle the roots of racism and to bring about structural change”.
Brook outlined the various initiatives College has set up to fight racism, including a working group to investigate racism on clinical placements and the beginnings of a consultation period with staff and students on racism to determine the best way forward in helping students dealing with racism.
She also mentioned the decolonisation of Trinity’s curriculums and the establishment of a new equality office with anti-racism as part of its brief.
All of these steps should be welcomed. Well-considered policies are necessary to fight what is a systemic issue.
However, making these commitments is only a modest first step – and it does not give College a free pass to sit back and relax. Racism has been brushed under the carpet for years now and it has taken a global reckoning to bring it to the attention of College.
Trinity has to make real and tangible changes in the coming year that Trinity students currently experiencing racism will feel the effects of – not just students five years down the line.
It is also time for clubs and societies to reflect on their own biases and ask what they can do to help improve diversity. Students have a responsibility to help battle racism and become more open and accepting – not just the College administration.
Trinity is more than a college – it is also an ethos. As Brook said, inclusivity and diversity are values that Trinity prides itself on. Now more than ever, it must embrace them.
It is time now for College to listen and to act.