October is Black History Month. This month is an opportunity to celebrate Black heritage and culture, as well as embracing the cultural diversity of our community here at the University of East London. By celebrating together, we can share and learn about Black history and help to unite our community. It is also a time to reflect on and discuss the barriers still present for Black people today, both here in the University and in society as a whole.
This year's theme - Time for Change: Action Not Words - is centred around the need for action. A call for people to stand up, when they ‘see something, say something’, and to become an active rather than passive bystander. To learn how to be an effective active bystander, attend our bystander training which we are running during Black History Month. This session will give you the tools and knowledge to use action not words to tackle the problem of racism within our society. To find out more about Black History Month and this year's theme, click here.
Some of our key priorities include:
- Actively tackling racism using ‘Bystander training’ emphasising that the responsibility of tackling racism falls on everyone, not just those directly affected.
- Tackling the ‘Degree Awarding Gap’: the difference between white students and Black and minority ethnic students awarded a 1st or 2.1 degree classification
- Re-launching a new Black, Asian and minority ethnic students' community, where all students who identify as BAME can access support, campaign for changes, and run events to celebrate the many different cultures we have at UEL.
- To find the widely accepted term to address the Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities within the institution.
To celebrate Black History Month, we have a programme of events which range from film nights to club nights and includes the re-launch of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic students' community. We have a campaign focusing on tackling the Degree Awarding Gap, Bystander training, and a debate about the possible alternatives to using the term ‘BAME’ within the institution. More information about these events can be found here. (We will continue to add to our events during the month.)
We’ll also be celebrating the achievements and successes of our students, staff and alumni throughout BHM and thereby recognising their challenges. If you’d like to submit your success story or to nominate someone else, please do that here.
As your Students’ Union, it is central to our mission to ensure that you have every opportunity to succeed at university and you feel that you are part of the community at UEL. Throughout the year, we will be identifying ways in which 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.
We are committed to continuing this conversation 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.
Irfana Kottikulam-Aboobacker, activities and opportunities officer
Pippa Evans, education officer
Lavanya Rajendran, wellbeing and community officer