There is a risk that when we change things at speed some of the gains we have made previously get lost, reversed or return to ‘business as usual’. Business as usual was not particularly equal, diverse or inclusive at the best of times. This could be an opportunity to establish a new normal which would impact a lot of people.
The protected characteristics under the Equality Act are: · Age · Disability · race (including ethnicity and nationality) · religion or belief · sex · sexual orientation · gender reassignment · pregnancy and maternity · marriage or civil partnership.
There are likely to be particular issues for how we support both students and staff with protected characteristics when we move to new modes for large numbers of students.
By way of example, issues to consider might include:
- Students with physical disabilities may be unable to take part at all in on campus activities due to health risks from covid19 and have to access all services and carry out all transactions remotely
- Designing one way systems and new routes through the campus is going to involve using a bunch more doors, which may not be fully accessible.
- Students with mental health issues may need more support if their conditions are exacerbated by social distancing / lockdown / covid19 worries
- BAME students and staff, and older students and staff, may need greater protection or targeted advice as BAME and older people appear to be higher risk groups
- Students and staff may be subject to harassment or abuse during the covid19 pandemic as a result of their faith or ethnicity
- The nature and responses to harassment, bullying and abuse online is different from face to face and is particularly experienced by women, BAME, disabled, LGBT+ staff and students
- Staff and students with young children may be unable to work on campus at all or may only be able to do for limited periods, due to childcare obligations
- Caring, pastoral support and mental health support work, traditionally has been done disproportionately by women.
- Students working from home in countries with restrictive regimes may experience online environments differently than those not.
- Students living areas of social deprivation or low connectivity may have limited or different access to technology.
- Students with disabilities are easily excluded for accessing learning if care is not taken to ensure that learning materials and activities are accessible.
- Staff with disabilities are easily excluded for accessing online meetings and events if care is not taken to ensure that closed captions and text chat are accessible.
- The images, reading lists, case studies and examples used in the curriculum may not be chosen with care to represent the diverse student body.
Any more? Many more?