Sheffield university hiring students to tackle racist language on campus - and this is their hourly wage

Students at the University of Sheffield are to be paid to challenge language on campus which could be seen as racist.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 11:31 am

The university will hire 20 of its own students to tackle so-called "microaggressions" - which it describes as "subtle but offensive comments".

They will be trained to "lead healthy conversations" about preventing racism on campus and in student accommodation.

Vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts said the initiative wanted to "change the way people think about racism".

The University of Sheffield.

The students will be paid £9.34 per hour as "race equality champions", working between two and nine hours per week to tackle "microaggressions" in the university.

These are described as comments or actions which might be unintentional, but which can cause offence to a minority group.

It gives examples of what it means by microaggression - such as:

"Stop making everything a race issue"

"Why are you searching for things to be offended about?"

"Where are you really from?"

"I don't want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It's nowhere near where I'm from"

"Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like"

Rather than being about controlling people's speech, the university says it is "opening up a conversation".

It says the equality roles are being created in response to demand from students, training them how "to help their peers understand racism and its impact".

"We think it's important to be open and honest about racism," said Prof Lamberts.

A report last autumn from the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned that racism was a "common occurrence" for some students, with incidents of name-calling, physical attacks and racist material on campus.

Rosa Tully, Women’s Officer of the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union, said: “Standing up to racism and celebrating our diverse University and Sheffield community is a priority for students at Sheffield, so we’re proud to have worked with the University to introduce Race Equality Champions.

“The sessions are designed to facilitate healthy, open discussions – and to give students the tools to think critically about race in our society, to challenge microaggressions that have a real impact on BME students and to be actively anti-racist in our thinking.”