University of Sheffield Recruits Race Equality Champions to help Students Challenge Microaggressions

The University of Sheffield has launched an initiative to recruit Race Equality Champions to change the way students think about racism.

The new roles will be filled by students, who will be trained to lead healthy conversations in University residences and across campus, to help their peers understand racism and its impact and equip them with skills that can be applied in a variety of work and social settings.

All students are encouraged to attend the sessions, where they will develop the skills to challenge microaggressions – subtle but offensive comments or actions directed at black, Asian and minority ethnic people, which are often unintentionally offensive.

The initiative, which forms part of the University’s Race Equality Strategy, will see the champions also provide optional training to student society leaders to ensure all students are aware of the support available to them.

Content for the discussions has been developed by a wide range of students and academic experts at the University, and is designed to encourage students to have healthy, open discussions, express their opinions and think critically about issues such as the Windrush scandal, perceptions of racism in British society and microaggressions.

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “Here at Sheffield, we think it’s important to be open and honest about racism, which is why we listened to our students and worked closely with our Students’ Union and our BME committee to develop the Race Equality Champion roles to change the way people think about racism. These Champions will give our students the skills to challenge microaggressions now and in the future. They will also ensure students are aware of the support available to them at the University of Sheffield.

“We take pride in being part of a community with students from over 140 different countries and all ethnic, religious and socio-economic backgrounds and will continue to celebrate diversity on campus and ensure students are clear that there is no place at Sheffield for racism.”

Rosa Tully, Women’s Officer of the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union, said: “Standing up to racism and celebrating our diverse University and Sheffield community is a priority for students at Sheffield, so we’re proud to have worked with the University to introduce Race Equality Champions.

“The sessions are designed to facilitate healthy, open discussions – and to give students the tools to think critically about race in our society, to challenge microaggressions that have a real impact on BME students and to be actively anti-racist in our thinking.”