Recent events have reminded us of the systemic racism that can still be found in British society.

These events are deeply troubling. We are concerned to ensure that recent protests against racism worldwide bring about much-needed change. We also acknowledge that, for Black and minority ethnic members of our community, locally and nationally, the effects of the pandemic have been disproportionate. We ask all members of St John’s College to join together to stamp out racism. Collectively, we must actively promote equal opportunities, ensure fair treatment and tackle discrimination in all of its forms.

In our College and elsewhere, much work is to be done. Fundamental to moving forward is increased support for and communication with our BAME colleagues. We will set up a working party on race and racism to address the concerns of the BAME community; the collegiate University as a whole will be impoverished if these issues are ignored. Members of the working party will be drawn from a diverse range of stakeholders, including College undergraduate and postgraduate students, staff and Fellows. We will also seek input from an Advisory Group of alumni. The working group will discuss the range of specific issues raised in an Open Forum attended by BAME and non-BAME College members. The group’s broad remit will be to inform us of the actions we need to take to implement real change, and it will be tasked with guiding the College as it addresses the issues raised.

This proposal builds on the steps the College has taken to date. To complement the work of our Fellow for Equality, we appointed a Fellow for Ethnic Minorities in 2017, and have initiated cultural awareness and equality training for non-academic and academic staff. Through our Inspire initiative, we have worked with pupils from under-represented groups to enable them to overcome the systemic disadvantages they face. We have also provided support for Target Oxbridge and for the collegiate University’s major initiatives, Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford. We are strongly committed to reaching the stage where there is significant representation of the BAME community in Oxford at all levels. To this end, we monitor BAME representation in our student body and amongst our academic and non-academic staff. We have funded an ongoing study into the colonial past of the College and welcome the steps Oriel College is taking in commissioning an independent inquiry into the issues surrounding the Cecil Rhodes statue. We also welcome initiatives pioneered by other colleges towards revisiting their historical past.

Finally, we commit to support the University’s initiatives including:

  • increasing the diversity of its counselling team and improving access to welfare support for Black and other minority ethnic students, ensuring that all counseling staff have training in dealing with experiences of racism;
  • a funding initiative for scholarships for Black students;
  • setting up an access track in UNIQ to meet the specific needs of BAME students applying to Oxford University.

We are determined to make St John’s College in Oxford a place where every member from the BAME community feels welcome, supported and able to thrive.

Prepared for the Governing Body of St. John’s College, Oxford by the Fellow for Ethnic Minorities, Fellow for Equality and the President

 25th June 2020