At the beginning of October, the University Express launched a survey aimed towards students of University College Cork in order to determine whether students view racism as an issue in UCC, whether students have experienced or witnessed racism in or around the UCC campus, and how it affects students of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The survey was sent to every student email account, with 137 respondents between October 3rd to October 21st.
The survey consisted of a series of short questions, while the identification of students in terms of gender and nationality/ethnicity was also collected. The questions ranged from asking about personal experiences of racism, to witnessing racism and concluding as to whether they believed that the governing bodies of UCC are doing enough to combat racism in and around UCC. Respondents were also asked to rate the severity of racism on our campus on a scale of 1-10 based on their own opinions.
The responses collected showed that 16 of the 137 students surveyed have experienced racism personally during their time at UCC. Based on these findings, the University Express can say that this applies for 1 student in every 9 people surveyed. Out of the total respondents of 137, a sum of 122 identified as either white, Irish or Caucasian. 25 of those who answered the survey identified as a different ethnicity. Out of these 25, a total number of 10 had claimed that they had been subject to personal, racist attacks. The data from the survey showed that 40% of all non-white, Irish or Caucasian respondents have suffered racist abuse while studying at UCC. Out of the 122 students who identified as Irish/White or Caucasian, a total of 6 claim that they have been personally targeted by racism, this equates to almost 5% of students in that category, or 1 in 20.
Out of all 137 people respondents, only 31 could answer categorically ‘yes’ when asked whether they thought racism was being discussed enough on campus at UCC. In response to the scale question mentioned above, on average students believe that the severity of racism on campus is 3.24 out of 10. Looking more closely at the figures resulting from this question, it’s noted that the highest number from any respondent was 8 on the scale, with a total of four people using this figure to describe the seriousness of racism at UCC. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 29 of those surveyed only gave this question a mark of 1. The overall figure of 3.24, therefore, is naturally distorted by the much higher number of students who believe there is no racism in UCC, compared to those who think there is a significant problem.
Accounts from victims who have received personal abuse due to their ethnicity highlights an astonishing level of ignorance towards international students studying here at University College Cork. Of those who have suffered abuse, a high percentage come from Asian descent and many claim that they feel excluded and mocked because of their ethnicity. Reports also indicate that there is a culture of inappropriate racist language used within social groups and subsequently directed covertly at their targets. However, other accounts suggest that there is open racism, with one respondent claiming that they were told to “go home” and was called a “thief” because they were black.
All of the data collected shows that there are serious causes for concern for UCC. The strategic plan for the college for 2017-2022 includes details for international student expansion but there is a danger that these statistics may deter foreign nationals from choosing to study in Cork. While the majority of respondents claim that racial discrimination is not an issue, the results clearly indicate that racism does exist on campus.
UPDATE 14:53, 02/11/2018: Title updated for clarification following input by UCC Students’ Union