Equalities Officer criticises Stuart Hall omission

Equalities Officer criticises Stuart Hall omission

first_imgThe University been criticised by its Equality and Diversity Officer after failing to mention the death of Merton alumni Stuart Hall, the Jamaican-born cultural theorist and sociologist, in one of its media bulletins.In an interview, Shakina Chinedu, the Equality and Diversity Officer, told a reporter from the campaign group Voice4Change that the University refused her request to report Hall’s death in themedia bulletin because “[Hall’s] academiccareer wasn’t spent long enough at OxfordUniversity”.When approached by Cherwell, Chinedu declined to comment on the issue.Stuart Hall, who died in Feburary, was one of the founding figures of British Cultural Studies. He won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Merton, and went on to study for an MA and a DPhil at the University.Speaking on behalf of Oxford University Africa Society, Brian Kwoba told Cherwell, “The University’s failure to mention Stuart Hall is symptomatic of a larger problem; the white blindspot generated by Oxford’s Eurocentrism. There are a number of Black scholars who are not mentioned, featured in painted portraits on the walls of their respective colleges, or given recognition for coming to Oxford.”He added, “Besides Stuart Hall, for example, there is also Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem who was the was the general secretary of the Pan-African Movement, director of Justice Africa, Deputy Director of United Nations Millennium Campaign for Africa, as well as a writer for newspapers and journals across Africa.”Exeter College Equalities Officer-elect Charanpreet Khaira pointed out the implications that the ommission might have for access efforts. Khaira told Cherwell, “It’s a bit of a shame that the University wouldn’t take any opportunity it has to present itself as more racially diverse. Oxford has enough of a stereotypical reputation as it is, and we should be trying to change that to encourage diversity, rather than putting people off from applying.” However, a University spokesperson pointed out that Stuart Hall’s legacy has been recognised in other ways. In the week of his death, TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) held a seminar which paid tribute to his life and academic career, and the influence that he has had on political and cultural thought.The spokesperson also highlighted obituaries that were published on the websites of the Rhodes Trust, Merton College and Oxford Today, the University’s alumni magazine.Brian Kwoba, who is also a member of the OUSU Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality (CRAE) remarked, “I’m not sure that these omissions put off any non-white applicants from applying, because most people – including people of colour – apply to Oxford for the prestige of the ‘brand’ it has created.”“Rather, not mentioning or acknowledging the contributions of Black Oxonian alumni like Stuart Hall is certainly a missed opportunity to make a special appeal to BME prospective applicants, and an inspiring story for current BME students.”As of 2013, black and minority ethnic (BME) students were less likely to be given an offer from the University than white students, as BME students had a success rate of 17.1% compared to 25.4% for white students. The number of BME students applying to the University has increased, however, from 1,965 in 2012, to 2,101 in 2013.Kwoba has suggested that in order to improve access efforts, the University should attempt to “diversify the academic staff and tutors so that more BME professors can teach about History, English and Philosophy as recorded and understood by scholars from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Muslim world.”He also suggested that the humanities broaden their reading lists so that they move beyond Western canon.A University spokesperson told Cherwell, “Given the vast amount of attention Oxford receives worldwide, the media bulletin cannot hope to be comprehensive and, in order to make it manageable, some types of coverage such as obituaries of alumni are not included, however notable the individual. Tony Benn and Derek Cooper are among recent examplesof alumni whose obituaries were not carried in the round-up.”last_img

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