To all our students, staff and the Westminster community.
Firstly, we as your Officer team, would like to once again express our deepest sympathies to anyone affected by the recent hatred and racial aggression towards our Black community – in the UK and the world. We hope you can find support and comfort in your loved ones and those closest to you.
This is not a statement to shed light on these dire events but rather a list of commitments from us to ensure our community is inclusive and accepting of all backgrounds regardless of race, gender, religion and any other characteristic. More importantly, we want our Black students to feel at home and to have the same privileges and opportunities as our white peers. There were plenty of you who have engaged with us on social media – including the BLM Instagram Live event – and queries / concerns coming through emails, and we want to say We Hear You.
To give you an idea of where we are as an organisation, we feel it’s important to highlight some statistics of our own Black community:
· 80.5% of our Black students are commuter students, we know that commuter students engage less with the SU – meaning that our Black Students currently are less likely to get involved and we take responsibility for not doing enough to engage with you.
· Although 65.4% of our students are BAME students, only 14.8% are Black students and it's important that this group of students feel supported and represented.
· The majority of our students start University from 18 to 19 years old, however we see a spike between 30 to 39 years of age for black mature students, and we understand that we are not doing enough to support our mature students.
· In regards to grades we know that 50.6% of Black students get a 1st or 2.1, but 78.6% of White students get a 1stor 2.1, this means on average our Black Students who have the same entry grades as our White Students are leaving Westminster with lower grades.
These factors are what impacts the attainment gap at Westminster, and we understand we need to do more to affect change on this matter.
It is apparent that not enough is being done to support our Black students, and we feel it’s not acceptable for a University who prides itself on being so diverse and with a 65% BAME population. We are driven for change and want to ensure the Union is accepting of all students and that any racial bias is eradicated.
These are our commitments for change and are a promise to our Black students:
1. Every member of UWSU staff, including Officer team, will undergo unconscious bias training.
2. All UWSU staff will receive Equal Opportunities Training.
3. We will create a working group within the Union with key staff to action feedback from our student networks to support eradicating racism.
4. We will restructure our student networks to ensure they feel supported and be able to give feedback to the Union on change that needs to happen at UoW.
5. We will challenge the University about liberation and publicly speak out when the interests of our Black students are not being met.
6. We will be transparent about our achievements and WIP (works in progress) on a monthly basis.
7. We will be conducting a pay audit by ethnicity to ensure staff wages are equal and fair.
8. We will review the distribution of our development budget for staff to see if there are any disparities in the ethnic make-up of staff undertaking different types of training.
9. We will give training to ensure our key staff and all our student facing services are equipped to deal with racism related complaints and appeals.
10. We will be conducting a review on our recruitment process to guarantee equal opportunities to our black candidates.
11. We will equip our sabbatical officers with the skills and training needed to challenge structural racism within committee meetings but also making sure that liberation is in the centre of all the work that they do.
12. We will dedicate a page on our website where students can refer to for resources on how to be an ally to our black students and staff members.
13. We will provide training for our student leaders on how to hold events inclusive to our black students.
14. We will work to develop a terminology which is more inclusive to the black community as we recognise that the term BAME erases the experiences of the black community.
15. We will be conducting an audit by ethnicity of the students who make up our volunteer leadership roles such as course reps, club and society leaders, FANS and other roles to determine if our volunteers reflect the diversity of our student body, if not we will take steps to resolve this.
We recognize that our systems have been ineffective at supporting you at Westminster and, as a Union, we have not done enough to challenge that and make change. We hope the above commitments can form the bases for more future work to support our liberation groups and make Westminster a supportive and diverse community that celebrates all its students.
We will continue to work with the University to create a change at Westminster informing them on the direct feedback we get from you, our students.
Finally, we would like to say;
To our Black Students – we have not done enough to support you, and we promise to make that a priority and bring about change. Challenge us because we want to, and we will, be better.
To our Asian and other minority ethnic students – though we recognise conversations around race inequality also affect you, it is vital to recognise the privilege you hold when addressing these experiences with the black community at Westminster. Their experiences have been erased under the term BAME and that can’t happen for any longer.
To our White students – privilege has always been a one-way street. Until this challenge has been overcome, only then can we move forward towards a more inclusive Westminster.
Take care and stay safe from your Officer Team (2019 – 20),
Ibrahim Alzaid, Lubaba Khalid, Jamilla Torres, Gerald Aguilar and Ismahan Nur
If you have any questions, or would like to get involved in campaigns, submit ideas or other comments, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org