A piece in today’s Times:
The head of the Royal College of Art is the subject of a confidence vote by academic staff after he appointed a middle-aged white man as diversity champion.
Tutors said that the college, which counts Henry Moore, Tracey Emin and David Hockney among its alumni, had for generations fostered a “hideous culture of overt and insidious systemic racism”.
A letter setting out the grounds for the confidence motion said the appointment of the new head of inclusion by Paul Thompson, the vice-chancellor, revealed a “toxic culture of systemic racism”. It has been signed by 800 staff and past and present students, including all four winners of this year’s Turner prize: Tai Shani, a tutor at the college, Oscar Murillo, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Helen Cammock.
The job went to Mark Harrison, who had a similar role at the University of London. The letter said his appointment “at a time of mass protest around the violent marginalisation of black people from society” was distressing. Lecturers have called for his appointment to be rescinded, a revised job description and new recruitment process undertaken by a diverse panel.
Nineteen per cent of staff at the London college are from ethnic minorities. Among academics the figure is 13 per cent, its most recent equality report said. The vote concludes today.
The college said: “Transformational progress on [eradicating racism] is vital to the development of the entire RCA.”
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