University statement on the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

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Today marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

George Floyd’s murder, and the recent trial of those involved in his death, has shocked and angered people around the world. We recognise that today’s anniversary will be difficult for many in the Brookes community, particularly our black students, colleagues and friends. 

In marking today’s anniversary, we are clear that the time for hollow words is over. Black communities rightly demand an end to inequality and injustice - real change, now. 

The global pandemic has brought the inequalities which exist at every level of society sharply into focus. However, it has also meant that race equality has not received the time and attention that it needs and deserves. 

As a University, we acknowledge this tension; over the last year, we have taken steps to bring about change but it needs to be much faster and more broadly felt. 

Since last summer, we’ve spent time listening to our BAME staff and students, trying to understand the issues and barriers which we might be unaware of, or not fully understand.  Despite our best intentions, we know that the experience of being a student or staff member at our University doesn't always match our institutional commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. Some things have been difficult to hear but we know that we need to shine a light on all experiences, positive and negative, before we can make steps towards achieving inclusivity and fairness for all.  

During Black History Month in October 2020, we confirmed that the University will sign up to the Advance HE Race Equality Charter. This will see the University make a range of institutional and cultural changes to place race equity at the heart of everything we do. And as part of the University’s new 2035 strategy, we have introduced a new Guiding Principle of Inclusivity - to ensure we take positive steps to create an environment providing equal opportunity to all.

Today, as a further signal of our commitment, we can confirm that we will be looking at ways to introduce independent scrutiny of the University’s equality and diversity approaches. We recognise there are areas in which we would benefit from additional advice and challenge; further details will be shared in due course. 

Going forward, we need to ensure that all of these commitments alongside our good intentions are translated into real progress and change. We’ll be continuing our dialogue with BAME staff and students; staff workshops will be taking place shortly and in the Autumn, and we will be surveying the experiences and views of all BAME students during the next academic year. Students will be represented on the University’s Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team and we will work closely with Brookes Union to gather feedback via focus groups. We’ll be reviewing our staff harassment and bullying policy to ensure it protects the right of all to work without fear.

On today’s anniversary, we pause for a moment to remember all black lives lost over the last year. We also remember Richard Okorogheye, a young man with a bright future whose life was cut tragically short, and whose loss remains deeply felt by the Oxford Brookes community. 

Black lives do matter, and our collective practices, discourses, policies and laws must reflect this.

Vice-Chancellor’s Group

Professor Alistair Fitt
Vice-Chancellor

Cathy Burleigh
Director of Finance and Legal Services

Brendan Casey
Registrar and Chief Operating Officer

Ruth Davies
Director of Human Resources

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday
Pro Vice-Chancellor Student and Staff Experience

Professor Linda King
Pro Vice-Chancellor - Research and Global Partnerships

Professor Rachael Langford
Pro Vice-Chancellor - Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr Astrid Schloerscheidt
Pro Vice-Chancellor - Dean of Health and Life Sciences

Professor Joe Tah
Pro Vice-Chancellor - Dean of Technology, Design and Environment

Professor Tim Vorley
Pro Vice-Chancellor - Dean of Oxford Brookes Business School