The University of Edinburgh's Response to Asian Hate on Campus

Solutions that provide greater safety and support for university students from Asian backgrounds

The Covid-19 pandemic has reinvigorated existing sinophobic sentiments worldwide and
led to an alarming spike in violent hate crimes towards those of East and South-East Asian
(E/SEA) descent. This paper
therefore recommends more intensive training for all staff members alike, particularly
Personal Tutors; mandatory talks regarding our zero tolerance towards racial abuse and
discrimination during Welcome Week for Freshers; more visibility online and on campus for resources and support; and a stronger centralised policy system that is made aware by students
alike.

Published

2021

University of Edinburgh

Authors

Sofia Farouk

Caiying Feng

Emma Lake

Molly Shewan

Sydney Kwok

Rianna Chong

Executive Summary

The Covid-19 pandemic has reinvigorated existing sinophobic sentiments worldwide and

led to an alarming spike in violent hate crimes towards those of East and South-East Asian

(E/SEA) descent. Evidence of this extends into the University of Edinburgh campus when, in

December 2020, a Chinese student was verbally harassed and physically assaulted by a group

of men outside the University Library.


The response from the University of Edinburgh was

insubstantial, catalysing many students to feel unsafe and unprotected. The pandemic has

exacerbated racial divisions but also exposed existing gaps in our anti-Asian discrimination

policies which this paper aims to criticise and confront. This policy paper will explore the

University of Edinburgh’s current policies, suggesting methods to improve their reporting and

supporting structures for racial incidents to ensure all its students’ safety.


Currently, depending on the severity of the incident, the University has multiple pathways

for students to report racially motivated crimes which include: directly reporting incidents to

staff members, settling the issue through the Frontline Resolutions or going to the Advice

Place.2

The University has additional supportive mechanisms in place for students inclusive of

external helplines and University counselling services.3Additionally, In attempts to deal with

the symptoms of the pandemic, the University has also issued the ‘Equality and Anti-Racist

(REAR) Action Plan 2021/2022’ which looks at taking actions against various forms of racism

(personal, cultural and institutional.)4


However, upon analysis, these practises do not seem robust enough. During this

unprecedented time where the need for these mechanisms are greatly needed, their efficacy is

greatly questioned, particularly areas of visibility, accessibility and accountability. This paper

therefore recommends more intensive training for all staff members alike, particularly

Personal Tutors; mandatory talks regarding our zero tolerance towards racial abuse and

discrimination during Welcome Week for Freshers; more visibility online and on campus for

resources and support; and a stronger centralised policy system that is made aware by students

alike.