One of the greatest dangers in the Prevent framework is that it can all too easily lead to suspicion and unequal treatment. In the University Assembly’s discussion of the Prevent duty, the importance of non-discrimination and academic freedom were forcefully advocated. Our University Council has said that it expects Prevent to be implemented as it is a statutory duty - but, in agreement with the Assembly’s concerns, it has also said that this implementation should be done in a non-discriminatory way, and that academic freedom should be protected.
So to support these intentions, and to further embed Warwick’s anti-racism position, we have decided to establish a Prevent Reference Group. This group will monitor the implementation of the Prevent Duty, so that its manifestation is always appropriate and in-line with Warwick’s commitments to equality, non-discrimination and academic freedom. At present, it comprises the four of us named here: the Vice Chancellor, who will take insights to other bodies in the institution including the Council; Justine Mercer, who proposed the motion on Prevent at the Assembly; Charlotte Heath-Kelly, an academic specialist in the field of British counter-terrorism policy (identified at the Assembly); and Luke Pilot, incoming President of the Students' Union.
But we cannot do this alone and we seek your input. We would like to invite other members of our community to join us and to share experiences, concerns and best practices. On the student side, the SU are working to add extra representatives – especially from societies representing ethnic and religious minorities. For staff, we are seeking volunteers who can contribute to the discussion of best practice vis-à-vis the Prevent Duty.
We expect one meeting a quarter, without agenda and minutes, but with the opportunity to raise issues and experiences, to test how the University is and should be responding. However it is important that we stress the parameters: this cannot be a forum for overthrowing the national policy. Within the remit of the statutory duty, our work is about how we most appropriately implement Prevent.
There is a lot we can, and must, do together to ensure that our legal responsibilities to apply Prevent also reflect our values as a community. If you would like to help us, please get in touch with one or more of us via the email addresses below – ideally by the end of August please.