Bristol University training slide said to overlook Jewish staff due
Bristol University has confirmed it used a slide for a training programme on inclusion and diversity, which suggested it had to overlook recruiting a Jewish staff member because weekly team meetings clashed with the arrival of Shabbat.
The institution, which was widely condemned over its handling of the dismissal of Professor David Miller nearly three years after Jewish students had complained about his lectures, admitted using the controversial slide for external training sessions.
Under the headline Religion and Belief, it featured an image of six staff members engaged in a meeting about recruiting a new staff member.
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It then stated:”A selection panel is in discussion. The strongest candidate is John, a Jewish applicant.
“However there is a potential problem: he says he’ll need to leave early every Friday, which is when the weekly Team Meeting has to be held.”
Dr Karen E. H. Skinazi, Director of Lib Arts at Bristol, posted an image of the slide on Twitter.
The answer to the question on the slide, used by Bristol University.
She wrote:”Today I was thinking about my university’s equality, diversity, and inclusion workshop, where I learned we shouldn’t hire the best person for the job if that person happened to be #shomershabbos. Classic case of #jewsdontcount@Baddiel”
Skinazi later revealed she had been contacted by the Head of Staff Inclusion at Bristol who confirmed “has ceased using this awful training (an external product used by many universities).”
Today I was thinking about my university’s equality, diversity, and inclusion workshop, where I learned we shouldn’t hire the best person for the job if that person happened to be #shomershabbos . Classic case of #jewsdontcount @Baddiel pic.twitter.com/SUzDUurywL
— Dr Karen E. H. Skinazi (@KEHSkinazi) January 5, 2022
The academic, who is a practicing Jew herself, added: “I also want to say that despite this generic external training, on the ground, I have been very well supported. I asked not to teach in person on Friday afternoons because I have a very long commute and the sun sets very early in the winter.”
Media law expert David Banks also tweeted saying:”They’ve effectively created an unlikely scenario – who has mandatory Friday afternoon team meetings? – in order to make it ‘right’ to exclude a Jewish candidate. Tells you a lot about whoever thought that one up.”
On Thursday, the MP Christian Wakeford raised concerns about Bristol University’s diversity and inclusion training programme in the House of Commons.
They’ve effectively created an unlikely scenario – who has mandatory Friday afternoon team meetings? – in order to make it “right” to exclude a Jewish candidate. Tells you a lot about whoever thought that one up.
— David Banks (@DBanksy) January 6, 2022
He said a vice-chancellor had told an Education Select Committee in October that the institution was planning new training around antisemitism in the aftermath of the David Miller scandal.
But Wakeford said a letter sent to the uni by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism asking for details of the training being offered had gone unanswered.
Bristol University issued a statement which it published on Twitter, saying: “”We’re aware of screenshots circulating on social media of equality and diversity training at the University of Bristol. This is not official training currently offered by the University and we absolutely do not endorse its content. This content was developed several years ago by an external company that provided generic online training modules to universities and other organisations. We can confirm that we no longer work with the company for staff training, and have not done so for some time.”