Culture Commission

What is the Culture Commission?

As SU President, this year I am commissioning a report on Durham’s culture from a student perspective. The report will have two purposes. Firstly, to identify and locate positive and negative behaviours or attitudes in the Durham student experience. Secondly, to offer sustainable and long-term recommendations to deconstruct and amend this culture. It’s our chance as students to take charge of our ‘Durhamness’, to recognise its deep-rooted problems but also to commit to the change that will ultimately make Durham a more welcoming place. The first step will be to understand the culture and students’ experiences of it, and this will inform the recommendations eventually made in the Commission.


Who are the commissioners?

Why am I doing it?

Durham is in transition, with new colleges, student number expansion, digitalisation, diversification, decolonisation etc. Now, more than ever, we need to talk about the culture here and reflect on the state of our university. I’ve come to realise that there is not one Durham experience that a student can or must have, but in practice a ‘dominant Durham culture’ continues to grab our attention. This dominant culture has withstood the test of time and continues to take centre stage through some of the loudest voices we hear most from.

We are all responsible for calling out these behaviours and I see the Culture Commission as a constructive medium for us to begin to investigate this dominant culture and dismantle the toxic elements of it, whilst celebrating the positives.

Where you can get support

I recognise that the discussion around Durham’s culture and the impact it can have on student experience will likely be distressing to some. I encourage anyone who is affected by the ongoing conversations around Durham’s culture to seek support. Below is a summary of some support options:

What How
Informal support for yourself (self-care / self-help)
  • Access resources online – e.g. through the NHS, Student Minds or the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust
  • Speak to trusted friends or family about how your experiences and how you’re feeling
  • Designate specific time to practice healthy self-care
Peer support
  • Contact your College’s student-led Welfare Teams or minority representatives
  • Contact Nightline via IM using their website. Available 9pm – 7am daily during termtime
  • Contact a relevant student group or Association:
    • Durham People of Colour Association (DPOCA)
    • LGBT+ Association
    • Trans Association
    • Womxn’s Association
    • Working Class Students’ Association (WCSA)
    • Students with Disabilities Association (SwDA)
    • International Students’ Association (ISA)
    • Mature Students’ Association (MATSA)
    • It’s Not OK Durham (focus on sexual misconduct and violence)
Professional support
  • Self-refer to the University’s Counselling Service
  • Speak to your College’s Support Staff
  • Speak to your GP
External support
  • Samaritans
  • Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre (RSACC – women only unless accessed through University Counselling Centre)
  • Tell MAMA (for victims of anti-Muslim abuse)
  • Galop (for LGBT+ victims of hate crime or domestic violence
  • The Community Security Trust (for reporting anti-Semitism)
Reporting incidents