Increasing cultural awareness on university campuses

Exeposé News Issue 623, Page 4 (7 May 2014) and Exeposé News online (10 May 2014)

Recent data indicates that cultural diversity on University of Exeter campuses has increased slightly over the past three academic years.

Data provided by Actuals 2008-13 showed that between the 2011/2 and 2013/14 academic years, the percentage of students describing themselves as white has decreased from 71.4 percent to 70.8 per cent while those of several other groups has increased – including Asian, Asian British-Bangladeshi, Black, Arab and Chinese students.

The data also showed a decrease in the percentage of students with unknown ethnicity or who refused to give information– from 16.6 per cent in 2011/2 to 10.6 per cent in 2013/4, suggesting a greater percentage of students feeling comfortable discussing ethnicity.

The data included all modes of study, all Exeter campuses and all levels of study.

A University spokesperson said: “We are committed to maintaining an environment which promotes equality of opportunity, values diversity and where students and staff can work and study free from discrimination and harassment.”

Increasing awareness of cultural diversity on Exeter campuses is viewed as a key issue by certain student groups, with the recent ‘I, Too, Am Exeter’ photo campaign encouraging students who feel they are treated differently due to their race to speak out about their experiences. Since beginning this March, the campaign’s Facebook page has gained over 1,300 likes.

Exeposé spoke to Taylor Ali, creator of the ‘I, Too, Am Exeter’ campaign, who says she was inspired by similar photo campaigns at Harvard and Oxford.

Taylor attributes the campaign’s success to the fact that “It’s easy to get involved in, and it’s open to everyone.” She adds: “The more you open things up to people, the more they’re willing to come to you.”

Revealing plans to expand the campaign to Exeter’s Cornwall campuses, Taylor says she aims to continue raising awareness through the Facebook campaign over the coming term.

Taylor told Exeposé that she had been shocked by written criticism of the campaign. She stresses that the page does not aim to spread hate or single out any one race, rather advocating “awareness over ignorance.” She adds: “It’s about telling people: “It’s not okay to say these things!”

Taylor says the campaign focuses on “letting the students have their voice, and not speaking for them,” adding: “If someone has an opinion, or something they’ve faced, who am I to judge?”

Chris Rootkin, Students’ Guild VP Community & Welfare, told Exeposé: “Taylor’s campaign has taken a close look at diversity across our University and presented what are sometimes shocking anecdotes from students. The student body at Exeter is wonderfully diverse and this campaign has highlighted the importance of being sensitive to the people around us.”

>>View original Exeposé News story>>
>>View Exeposé Issue 623 at issuu.com>>

Issue 623, Page 4 (News 2)

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