Street signs promoting an anti-racism message have gone up around the UTS campus, in the first such initiative by an Australian university.

University of Technology Sydney has partnered up with the Racism Not Welcome campaign, a grass roots movement that promotes diversity and inclusiveness through conversations about experiences of racism.

Part of the campaign involves the installation of two permanent #racismnotwelcome street signs.

The signs were unveiled yesterday at a ceremony on the UTS Alumni green.

The signs are not just signs that state our intent. They are signs that reassure people they are welcome here.

“It’s a great honour to open today another visible sign to the commitment that we have as a community in addressing racism in all of it’s forms,” said Andrew Parfitt, president and vice-chancellor of UTS.

“Today is the international day for the elimination of racial discrimination. [Racism] is an abhorrence on the community it exists, but it exists in so many ways not only systemic but casual.”

He said the new signs reflect the university’s strong commitment of contributing to social change.

“The signs are not just signs that state our intent,” he added. “They are signs that reassure people they are welcome here.”

UTS council member Kurt Cheng said it was a historic day for the university.

“We’ve now become the first Australian university to partner with the Racism Not Welcome campaign,” said Cheng.

“We saw the prevalence of racism during the pandemic.

“For many of us who would have seen the pandemic bought out the best and the worst of humanity including subjecting people of culturally diverse backgrounds to racism.”

Cheng said the signs enshrine the university as a place that is safe and inclusive for students and staff.

‘We’re making a strong institutional commitment,” he added. “We’re proud to unveil the Racism Not Welcome Signs.

“Two of the iconic red signs in the busiest area on a public campus to validate the experiences of racism, to drive conversations, and to empower our community to be actively anti-racist.”

Several guest speakers, including Verity Firth, Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of Social Justice at UTS, and Industry Professor at the Jumbunna Institute of Education and Research Lindon Coombes addressed the event, as did host Dr Elaine Laforteza, Equity and Diversity Project Officer (Cultural Diversity) at the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion.

Main image by Pranav Harish.