Today, as I came into work I was faced with swastikas and racist graffiti painted on campus, including graffiti that referred to "Pakis" and "Niggers". Shocking as this may be, it is not surprising that this has happened here at Staffs. The "no" campaign has given confidence to racists and Islamaphobes to come forward and spread their racist filth. The "no" campaign has created an atmosphere where racist and Islamaphobic comments are not challenged.
One of the most upsetting things in this whole saga is not just that this particular incident has happened but the (lack of) response from the University and Students' Union. The University has refused to work with any of the anti-racism campaigns that have been set up and run by the Students' Union. Not only that, but last week they invited a BNP councillor onto campus to talk to students about what it is like to be on the local council. When a student complained to me the University's response was to say that this was not a political act. Not an apology, not an acceptance of a mistake but just a justification of why they allowed a fascist onto campus to talk to students.
The Students' Union has lost control. The Union has no idea of how to deal with racism or how to affectively represent the needs of its black and Asian students. This is a result of years of pandering to the agenda of the University and worrying more about corporate image than the principles on which we are based. On the Students Union website there is a small article entitled 'Graffiti incident' explaining the appearance of racist graffiti on campus. Interestingly, the article was not titled "racist incident", even though the most pressing issue is surely that of racism not vandalism. This is an example of how the Students' Union has down played any form of racism and Islamaphobia. They are more concerned about appearing to call anyone or anything racist than they are bothered about the students who actually suffer direct racism. For months I have tried to bring to the Union's attention the bullying and harassment I have suffered, but the staff as well as some of the officers have time and again failed to grasp the idea of racism and Islamaphobia, only recently asking the "vote no" campaign to send out a message to its campaigners reminding them not to be racist in their campaign. This shows a lack of willingness to tackle the issue at hand and defend the president of the Students' Union. My welfare has not been considered. Mentioning my welfare in a meeting, just so it can be minuted is not enough, no action has been taken. Staff have contacted NUS staff members for advice. But, bizarrely, when we have had the NUS Black Students' Officer on campus, like today, officers and staff have not bothered asking her advice – surely she would be the first logical port of call in the current situation? Instead, yet again, it has been a case of damage control, and how the organisation can quite literally brush things under the carpet and people can carry on their lives without having to think about the issues at hand.