Edi students write open letter to VC demanding solidarity with POC students

The petition has 2,000 signatures and counting

Several black Edinburgh students have written an open letter to Peter Mathieson asking him and the University to stand in solidarity with black and POC students.

Dorcas Baah, Timmy Pinnick, Mukai Chigumba, Martine Irakoze, Tumi Akeke, and other members of Edinburgh’s BME community wrote the letter with four main aims they hope the University will use to “address racist incidents.”

The letter states: “We hope that this is the beginning of a conversation that leads to the improvement of the climate at the University.”

The letter’s first aim calls for the University to “make a statement on the main University platforms.”

It says: “The university should begin by immediately addressing the following issues and concerns publicly.

– The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Belly Mujinga

– The disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the BME community both within the UK and the world as a whole

– The racist and xenophobic incidents towards Asian people, particulalry those who are Chinese, as a result of COVID-19.”

The second aim calls for the University to “promote and establish an anti-racist culture.”

This involves giving all students and staff “information about the support available and the complaint process” in racist situations and an improvement on education with “students to be educated about all forms of racial discrimination and why they are offensive.”

Thirdly, the letter calls for the institution to “develop a comprehensive zero-tolerance policy.”

The letter says: “The University needs to clearly inform students on the repercussions for race discrimination and racism on campus.”

Finally, the fourth aim asks the University to “create and support representation initiatives.”

These students claim: “The lack of diversity within the staff or organisational bodies connected to the University is unacceptable.”

Dorcas Baah, one of the organisers gave the following statement to The Tab Edinburgh:

“As a Ghanaian-Scot studying at this institution, it has been disheartening to see the University opt to stay silent throughout this deeply disturbing time for many in the black community.

Yesterday, on #blackoutTuesday, the University released a very short and seemingly reactive statement that barely addressed the issues and once again delegated responsibility to other University structures like the Advice Place and EUSA.

Furthermore, the University – whether unconsciously or not – made this a ‘black students/staff issue,’ which allowed them to simply stay at the sidelines and merely encourage black students as opposed to getting actively involved.

Racism is everybody’s issue. If the negative reactions under their social media posts are anything to go by, then there is evidence that students from different races at the University are passionate about addressing and eradicating racism both on and off campus.

So, going forward the University needs to stop pushing racist incidents/issues into ‘black spaces,’ such as Afro/Caribbean societies or platforms, where these conversations on race/racism have been talked about for years – not just this Tuesday.

Enough is enough. We want the University of Edinburgh to use its voice properly and act to ensure that it promotes an actively anti-racist culture.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the black students and all the allies that have spoken out and shown true solidarity to our cause (either by signing our petition or sharing/engaging with our open letter). We appreciate you. I appreciate you.

I’m hoping for a day where we won’t need to protest or become activists to fight for our basic human rights.”

If you would like to sign the petition or read the letter, you can find them here.

The University has been approached for comment.

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