Black Lives Matter
As you will all be aware, since the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing Black Lives Matters protests there has been an outpouring of feelings and discussion on racism, and here at the University of Exeter we want to set out our position as an anti-racist Institution with a zero tolerance position to racism and prejudice. We have been heartened by the discussions we have been having with our student body and we absolutely value your collective voices and commitment, knowing that listening to our community is vital in moving forwards.
As the Vice-Chancellor has reiterated in his messages to all staff and students, tackling racism is for all of us. This includes listening, facilitating conversations, advocating for and implementing changes. We all have a responsibility to demonstrate that we are an anti-racist University. Debate and discussions in support of Black Lives Matter have been continuing across the University to develop a visibly and actively anti-racist approach. These conversations are expanding on the work already underway to promote equity and inclusion through the Race Equality Group, the University Inclusivity Group and the activity of the Provost Commission.
Over the past few weeks, we have been collectively working to push forward our strategy for tackling racism, with Professor Janice Kay, Provost, and Linda Peka, EDI Lead for the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group, leading a series of conversations reviewing the suggestions that have come forward from across the University community, and moving these forward together into action. Many thanks to students from the BME Staff, Student and Allies Network, Exeter African-Caribbean Society and the Unlearn Collective who have taken part in discussions to date. Themes discussed include recruitment and promotion, training and support for students, reporting mechanisms and support for victims; and ensuring an inclusive curriculum. You can see our response to the Unlearn Collective’s letter, written by a group of over 450 students, on our website, which outlines some of the actions already underway to underpin our anti-racist approach. . The Students' Union have also pledged to conduct monthly meetings with their ACS members to enhance relationships. You can read their full statement online.
The Education Executive Group led by Professor Tim Quine, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) has held a workshop on Black Lives Matter: Promoting Racial Equality through Pedagogy and Curriculum, with the focus of the workshop on developing objectives for future action to stamp out racism and promote racial equality. The workshop was attended by Education leaders from across the university, representatives of the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union, and colleagues and students representing the Race Equality Charter Group, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Equality Panel, the University Network of BME Staff, Students and Allies and the Provost Commission. Following the session the group will continue work to identify and implement clear actions and objectives to accelerate the promotion of racial equality through our pedagogy, creating an Inclusive Curriculum.
Last week saw a dedicated discussion at Senate on our response to Black Lives Matter and the beginnings of our University strategy on becoming an actively Anti-Racist institution. Our plans around an independent review on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic equality and inclusion, our focus on an inclusive curriculum and training opportunities for staff and students were all discussed by Senate, helping to add clarity of focus from representatives of our academic community. During the last week the Students’ Guild also held an online Solidarity Demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter as an opportunity to create a space to amplify Black voices, and a space to show our solidarity with the Black community at Exeter. Colleagues and students from all campuses were welcome to attend and you can watch this here.
Finally, Tina Verhaeghe, founder of the University’s BME Staff, Student and Allies Network, was interviewed on Radio Devon recently. She talks about the Black Lives Matter movement, the University’s BME Network, the role of allies and the importance of bystander intervention. You can listen to Tina’s interview on BBC Radio Devon (listen from 1:40:31) https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08fwzhg
Once again, we would like to thank every student that has been in touch with us. With the support of the whole university community we are in a much stronger position to act on discrimination and promote equity, and move forward into creating an even more diverse and inclusive institution. Please do continue to get in touch by contacting Provost@exeter.ac.uk