Think-tank says student unity could be harmed by identity groups

Unity among students can be harmed if universities are obsessed with ‘identity groups’, think-tank says

  • Many campuses have equality, diversity and inclusion policies (EDI)
  • Highlight how students are disadvantaged on basis of race, class, sex and gender 
  • But a think-tank say universities should avoid fixating on ‘identity groups’ 

Universities should avoid fixating on ‘identity groups’ because it damages ‘cohesion’, a think-tank says.

Many campuses have equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies which highlight how students are disadvantaged on the basis of race, class, sex and gender.

But the Higher Education Policy Institute interviewed students, who said it risked dividing university communities. Many told the think-tank they would prefer to find ‘common ground’ and ‘celebrate’ their ability to share spaces and activities.

It said: ‘Students emphasised the importance of finding a social or cultural group in which one feels as if they belong, but were wary about over-emphasising identity groups based on cultural differences.’

Many campuses have equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies which highlight how students are disadvantaged on the basis of race, class, sex and gender. But the Higher Education Policy Institute interviewed students, who said it risked dividing university communities (stock image)

It comes amid growing fears that identity politics are turning people against each other by highlighting differences.

Some universities are pushing the idea of ‘white privilege’ and critical race theory through diversity workshops.

This ideology revolves around the idea that people are inherently privileged or oppressed based on their skin colour and where their ancestors came from.

Critics say it risks making people feel resentful towards each other and may prevent them forming bonds.

Many told the think-tank they would prefer to find ‘common ground’ and ‘celebrate’ their ability to share spaces and activities (stock image)

Today’s HEPI report was carried out at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter.

It said: ‘Equality, diversity, and inclusion policies should be wary of highlighting divisions among students at the expense of student cohesion in academic and co-curricular activities.’

It said that ‘societal belonging’ can often come from shared activity and purpose, even if there are ‘different identity groups engaged’.

An interviewee told researchers: ‘[You should] remind them of why they’re there, and that’s their common ground, that’s why they’re all there.’

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