Sports & Societies

Join a Club or Society and become a part of #TeamWorc

#TeamWorc believes that all students at Worcester should feel safe and that they belong in the #TeamWorc community. Whilst Worcester celebrates its diverse community, clubs and societies still have a duty to ensure that none of their current or potential new members are made to feel in any way excluded or marginalised on the basis of their skin colour, race, religion, or nationality.

The global protests in response to the negative treatment of people of colour throughout societal structures, have rightly refocused attention on racism and the need for us to be anti-racist (i.e. it is not enough just to agree that racism is wrong; we must actively combat racism and embrace equity of experience and individual difference through societal and structural change).

Racism comes in many forms, from microaggressions to, sadly, severe incidents of overt abuse. And whilst Universities are often seen as progressive places to live and study, the experience of ethnic minorities during their time at University can be (and has been shown to be) still impacted by systemic racism, as well as issues such as xenophobia and discrimination. Sadly, this can be present in student sport and social activities.

 

As part of the SU’s work and support for the BUCS Inclusion Board, we spoke to two BAME students in order to find out about their experience playing sport.

 

“I think I was afraid at first as I was the only Asian girl. I do dress differently, and shorts are an issue for me. That’s not something which is necessarily specified by my religion; I just don’t feel comfortable otherwise.  The referee in one game wouldn’t let me wear tracksuit bottoms.  The coach and the captain told him that it was for religious reasons, but he still didn’t let me wear them.  He allowed me to play in leggings, but I still didn’t feel comfortable.” (Participant 1)

“I think a major thing that stops others from joining in is culture and religion. Many Muslim students I’ve encountered, for example, do not feel comfortable uncovering their legs so the sports kit is an issue. Small things like these sometimes make increasing participation a difficult task.” (Participant 2)

 

We are delighted that the individuals we spoke to have said that they felt welcomed into their club or society and the #TeamWorc community due to the understanding and acceptance from their team members. However, as participant 2 states, certain ‘cultures’ within some University teams across the country can sometimes lead to entirely inappropriate behaviours and even racist abuse.
 

“I’ve never felt uncomfortable here or noticed people use the wrong language or terminology. I think I’m quite lucky at Worcester because I have seen things on Twitter where people have encountered racist language and abuse at their University. There was a high profile one once where a men’s team were on tour and they were being abusive. There is definitely still lad culture at some Uni’s. (Participant 2)

 
How can we learn from the experience of Black and Muslim students? What do our participants wish to see changed?

 

“Pictures will help I think – you never really see any pictures of Asian or black people.  It would help you feel that you can join in too.  At the fairs at the beginning of the year it’s always good to make sure there are BAME students on the stalls as that helps encourage people to approach.” (Participant 1)

“We need to promote the links and similarities between black culture and sport – they share many of the same values. Most black people have very high values of family, morality, and loyalty and these things are so important for being in a team.  We need to change the way that sport is seen in HE.  It’s not about getting drunk but about values.” (Participant 2)

 

What can my club or society do to be more inclusive for BAME students?

 Focus on your club or society being outwardly open to people from all  backgrounds and ensuring that you will stand up and be an ally.

 Actively call out racism and abusive behaviour.

 Link with International societies and the new Student Networks – collaborate and run an event.

 Use key dates in the calendar to celebrate diversity and  to help create an inclusive culture within your club or society.

 Be aware and observe religious holidays or festivals

 Celebrate the achievements a diverse set of athletes (and not just your more elite athletes) on social media

 Work with external companies or charities who specialise in areas such as tackling racism and international engagement (see list below for some ideas)

 Create a culture where those of faith feel comfortable practising it

 

Where to go if you or someone you know is experiencing discrimination

  • The SU Help & Advice service
  • University Student Services
  • The University’s Associate Chaplain 
  • The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (this is a route you can take once you have exhausted the University’s internal complaints process)
  • The Black African and Asian Therapy Network
     
  • The Guardian have listed the top 10 anti-racism charities in UK (June 2020) as:
  • Show Racism the Red Card
  • Runneymede
  • Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
  • Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI)
  • Kick It Out
  • Stop Hate UK
  • Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER)
  • Discrimination Law Association (DLA)
  • Race Equality First
  • Black Lives Matter (UKBLM)