Cultural diversity has been a huge, beautiful aspect of our student experience here at Newbold. With up to 60 nationalities present on campus, culture is built into the institution’s ethos – our DNA. We have always been proud of that.
However, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests, the summer of 2020 saw several reports submitted to the College in a variety of formats, documenting painful race-driven experiences that individuals had been subject to – begging the question – was Newbold, as a Christian establishment, truly as inclusive as we ourselves believed?
On the back of these revelations, we vowed to right our wrongs via the Principal’s public apology on behalf of Newbold. Shortly afterwards, our Principal and Senior Leadership Team set up an ad hoc group which included staff and students to review and create a strategy and our former Chaplain chaired these meetings. We also began collaborative work with an external consultant who was supportive of our initiatives, including a compulsory Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) awareness training course for all staff.
We have officially launched an internal Anti-Racism and Intersectional Justice Task Force to address racial inequality and create and implement a dedicated framework that encompasses every area of the student experience at the College. The theme that all operations will underpin is Promote, Prevent, Protect and Succeed.
The new Task Force, chaired by our Head of Student Life and Chaplaincy, currently comprises eleven members who represent every College department, students, and passionate alumni within our wider community. Together, they will develop an action plan with intended outcomes.
The Task Force met for the first time on Thursday 29 April 2021. This meeting included:
- An introduction to the work and objectives of this Task Force
- An overview of College diversity statistics across student enrolment and staff employment
- A self-assessment evaluation to understand:
– what has been done to support anti-racism on campus to date
– the strengths and the weaknesses of our current procedures, campus culture, and structure
– what the next developments will look like
In-depth open and honest discussions carried through the extensive two-hour meeting, and among many key points in consideration for the framework creation, the Task Force was unanimous across:
- Creating a framework that considers the College community as a whole
- Critically assessing all relevant College policies to ensure that they all clearly outline the procedures concerning racial and equal discrimination, as well as to eradicate any form of potential for racial bias – and that we increase transparency about how we will challenge racial inequality
- Putting a comprehensive process in place to guarantee that diversity data collection is consistent and accurate
- Diverse and inclusive new curricula within the recently established Centre for Ministry and Mission
- Expanding diverse literature offerings in our Roy Graham Library
- Raising awareness of the impact of racism in all forms – conscious and unconscious
- Creating thoughtful events that promote and celebrate culture and diversity throughout the academic year
- Building trust and confidence from staff, students, alumni, and those affected in our community by opening safe spaces for supportive conversations – as well as reporting incidents of targeted racial behaviour, prejudicial language, racial harassment, racial microaggressions, and more
- Wanting to generally mend the overall representation, the College experience, and the success of minority ethnic staff and students
- Realising that each of us is equally responsible for ensuring that the Newbold experience is welcoming – truly welcoming, and consistently positive for anyone who walks through our door.
The finalised anti-racism framework, objectives, and outcomes will be published on a dedicated webpage which will launch in due course. We look forward to sharing this when available.
From September 2021, we will be focusing solely on ministry and mission – now it is more important than ever for us to consider where we stand as an institution: and that is in following the true spiritual narrative – His word. His values. His love.
We are reminded of the book of Galatians, 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Going forward, an anti-racist Newbold is the only Newbold. Whilst we can’t change history, we can change course and create a better future.