The start of October marks the start of Black History Month. This month is about embracing and celebrating the cultural diversity of our community here at the University of East London. By celebrating together, we can unite our community. It is also a time to reflect on and discuss the barriers still present for Black people today, both in general society and specifically here at the University.
Black history is not confined to one month. Throughout the year, we will be working to identify ways we can better represent you and tackle inequality here at the University of East London. We view this month as an opportunity to start conversations, which will continue for the rest of the year.
Some of our key priorities this year include:
tackling the Degree Awarding Gap which sees Black students awarded lower degree classifications than their white classmates.
calling on the University to implement its own recommendations and set up a working group to investigate why a disproportionately high number of academic misconduct cases involve Black students.
launching a new Black, Asian and minority ethnic students’ community group, where all students who self-identify as BAME can access support, campaign for changes they want to see, and run events to celebrate the many different cultures we are lucky to have at UEL.
To celebrate Black History Month, we have a programme of events which range from film nights to community sessions and includes the launch of our Degree Awarding Gap campaign. Take a look at our events page to see what we have planned. If you have any ideas for events or campaigns that you would like to see, please get in touch.
As your Students’ Union, it is central to our mission to ensure that you have every opportunity to succeed at University, that there are no barriers in your way, and you feel that you are part of the community at the University of East London. That means that as well as looking at what barriers exist at the University, we also have to look at what challenges our students face in society.
We think it is important that we acknowledge that this year in particular has been difficult for Black students. Whether you saw it on social media or took part in a protest, we can all acknowledge that the events over the summer has changed the conversation on structural racism.
So, we want to say it clearly: Black Lives Matter. We apologise to our students for taking some time to release this statement. We recognise that our silence may have looked like complicity at a time when Black people needed allies. We were concerned about making a meaningless statement when Black people need real action. We have taken time to consider what we can do to support Black students in a meaningful way and this is reflected above.
We would like to reassure all our students that we will not tolerate racism and we will work hard to dismantle it at the University. We are dedicated to working on the projects and campaigns outlined above to help improve the University experience for our Black students.
We are committed to continuing this conversation all year, and we encourage every student to get involved. Come to our events, talk to your friends and your course mates about what Black History means to you and your field of study, and tell us at the Students’ Union what you want us to do to tackle institutional racism. We are always here to listen to your voices and amplify them.
We want to assure you that this is not just a statement; it is a commitment to action.
Your Students’ Union Officers,
Insia, Naveen, and Jay