By Robiu Salisu, Student Inclusion Officer (BAME)
Would you consider the following to be ‘good-natured’ jokes?
Unwanted comments about a female choice of clothing, a black male student labelled as threatening because of their looks, or a disabled member of staff being made the subject of some jokes about their ability to work? No, because they are unacceptable and frankly discriminatory.
Microaggressions are everyday acts that can carry a subtle hint of discriminatory behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional. It encroaches into different spaces, from lecture rooms to accommodation to office spaces, making a negative impact on the experiences of individuals affected.
The aim of this article is to encourage students and staff to use the University Report and Support Tool to document cases of microaggression. A recent survey by Epigram found that over 30 per cent of students and staff have witnessed acts of microaggression, and 40 per cent were unsure if they had. It also revealed that over 25 per cent have experienced microaggression on campus. Microaggression is not a new phenomenon, it’s an age-old issue, and it cannot be accepted as a norm at the University.
It is important to note that the report does not initiate a formal complaints process. However, if you formally report unacceptable behaviour using the Acceptable Behaviour Policy, then you should contact the Student Complaints Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org, 0117 394 1820) or a Bristol SU Just Ask adviser.
The first step in eliminating microaggressions is to make the 'invisible' visible. Through the Report and Support Tool, students can feel safe coming forward and documenting cases of microaggression, discrimination or other issues that they may experience or observe. Reports can be submitted anonymously or with identifiable details. The report will remain confidential and will only be used if you have requested to be put in contact with an advisor from the University’s Student Wellbeing Service.
The University is committed to fostering a climate that is inclusive and welcoming for all our students and this is just one aspect of work that includes a variety of approaches to curriculum, pedagogy, norms, practices, visibility of staff and student representation, which continues to celebrate multicultural and global citizenship at the University.