Statement from the Master, MCR & JCR

The brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in the US has brought to light the ugliest form of racism. We condemn these events without reservation. We also recognise that racism against Black people is not limited to the Minneapolis police, or to the US, or to only these extreme examples, but is a daily experience in all its forms for many Black people across the world. We condemn all instances of racism.

The events in Minneapolis, and the many other instances of violence and discrimination against members of the Black community that have been laid bare in their wake, will have had a severe impact on many of our students. We are writing this message because we want our community to know we recognise this, and that we are also affected, and that we are committed to working together to bring about positive change.

These incidents come at what is already a very difficult time. Whilst we have all been adversely affected by the current pandemic, there is also evidence that the virus disproportionately affects the BAME community. We know this will have led to extra stress for our BAME students.

We have all found different ways of taking a stand on recent worldwide events, including making our views known through public statements, the signing of petitions and other peaceful activities. However, there is also recent evidence that racism is not something that is only external to Oxford. This strengthens our deep desire to make sure St Catherine’s College is a safe space for all. We are committed to calling out racist acts swiftly, and to learn to recognise and combat unconscious racial bias. We are intending to reach out to our College members to gather opinions, hear experiences, and think together how we may respond.

More broadly, education is a key part of raising awareness of racism and all forms of discrimination, so as a University we are in a good position to make a difference. We are encouraged by how many students of the University have made their horror at the recent displays of racism clear in peaceful ways. Once our students graduate and enter the world of work, their education will also give them the opportunities to make changes from within organisations, as well as continuing to voice your opinions more broadly.

Together we can change things for the better within Catz, and far beyond.

Kersti Börjars, Master
Richard Bailey, Dean and Heidi de Wet, Acting Dean (MT20 and HT21)
Ashok Handa, Tutor for Graduates
Chloe Colson and Henrique Aguiar, MCR Co-Presidents
Thomas McKeown, JCR President and Lydia Ciaccio, JCR President elect