The killing of George Floyd in an utterly barbaric manner, has upset many of us and many of you have written to me about the deep hurt it has caused you. There is no place in any society for the prejudice that sits behind this death and I, and the institution that I lead, condemn it and the structural racism and inequality that sits behind it absolutely.
What happened in Minnesota is not an isolated event for black communities in the USA where racial prejudice and injustice is deep rooted. Sadly, here in the UK, black communities all too frequently also experience violence, racism and prejudice. Every one of us needs to stand up to racism and recognise that black lives matter.
If we are to tackle racism and discrimination, we must recognise the structural and cultural change that is necessary throughout our society, for acts of extreme violence begin when we tolerate any form of racial prejudice and discrimination.
Students and staff have told me of the pain and distress caused by persistent acts of micro-aggression or unconscious bias both at the College and found on social media, graffiti and posters, in meetings and on our streets. One student has written to me to say that our black students are subjected to racism from fellow students in the spirit of debate and called aggressive for responding with passion. This is not acceptable. We have to do more to support you. We will do more.
The College has a zero tolerance policy against racial harassment, abuse or violence. It is our individual and collective duty to challenge every one of these incidents. I welcome and I am grateful to all students and colleagues who bring to my attention such acts and I want to assure you that the reports we receive are followed up by investigation and action. We have worked with local police and community leaders to react to specific episodes of racism and to counter local groups promoting racism. It is a task that continues and I and our community want to stand alongside our black community in solidarity in the fight for justice and equality.
If you or someone you know is a victim of any kind of racism or abuse please call it out, we will support you.
Professor Paul Layzell