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University student quits over race jibes

10-11-2007

The JournalLive:

RACE hate abuse forced a medical student at Newcastle University to quit her course and put her dreams of fulfilling a career in medicine on hold.

A female Bioscience student claimed a series of intimidating encounters with racists in Newcastle has forced her to terminate her three-year degree and return home.

The student, who the university is not willing to name, reported three separate instances of racially motivated abuse, which started just weeks after moving into her halls of residence in Bowsden Court, Gosforth.

Builders working near the site were said to have shouted derogatory names at her.

On a separate occasion she was tormented at South Gosforth Metro station by a group of youths.

The final straw came when she overheard herself being referred to as a “Paki” by fellow students in a union bar.

Pro-Vice Chancellor Ella Ritchie confirmed that the distressed student could not be persuaded to stay in Newcastle and condemned the insensitivity of people who use racially offensive terms.

She said: “Although these instances are rare, it is always the aim of the university to ensure that they never take place.

“We’re very careful about the builders we employ to work on campus and how they conduct themselves among the students.”

Newcastle University, which has more than 2,000 international students, prides itself on racial equality. But despite efforts from the Head of Biomedical Sciences, Professor Jane Calvert, who tried to dissuade her from quitting the course, nothing could convince her Newcastle was the place to study.

The union’s racial and equality officer, Mike Oliver, applauded the university’s response and plans to promote equal opportunities among students by launching a series of race hate support campaigns.

He said: “The response from the university in terms of their dedication to equal opportunities and race relations policy is highly commendable.

“The university has already worked closely with me carrying out further campaigns to ensure that racism in any form is dealt with effectively. This incident has highlighted that racism is still taking place at the university and more needs to be done to eradicate it.

“We run a support network backed by the council, called the Arches hate crime reporting station, between 2pm and 4pm on Wednesday afternoons, for students who feel victimised.”

Tyne and Wear Anti-Fascist Association spokesman, Mike Hartman, said: “We find it deplorable that people, who can make a real difference to our society and city, feel so intimidated that they have to leave.

“We trust that the relevant authorities will be following up this matter with urgency.”

A university spokesman said: “Newcastle University deplores racism and will not tolerate it.

“We would condemn anyone who subjected any of our students to racial abuse.

“Many of our students are from overseas and we strive for racial harmony.”

http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2007/11/10/university-student-quits-over-race-jibes-61634-20088647/

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