King’s Ethnic Minority Association stage mass lecture walkout
‘Black and Brown, shut it down!’
Today the KCL Ethnic Minority Association staged a lecture walkout on the basis of the lack of EMA representation within the curriculum, staff and student body.
Chants of “Black and Brown, shut it down” were heard at the Strand campus’ Quad at 11am, when POC and ally students walked out of their lecture to protest against their lack of representation at King’s.
The main question at hand for the protestors was: “Why is my curriculum white?”
The description of the Facebook event reads: “We join and ask all students of colour currently angry or dissapointed in how the curriculum, staff and system at King’s treats them – as well as our allies in support – to join us on Strand main Quad in protest against how Students of Colour are treated by the university.”
The protest began with students gathering on the Quad, chanting and encouraging onlookers to join in with the protest.
Speeches were given by the various students involved with organising the walk out in regards to their demands, the statistics and some anecdotes about being a POC at King’s.
The protest group then walked through the King’s building chanting, to raise awareness of what was taking place.
The walkout concluded with some final speeches being given to the crowd and students being invited to contribute their own stories about being a POC at King’s
Claire, a second year English student, told the Tab: “I came out today in solidarity with my peers, I think it’s ridiculous that we’re all at the same University, we’re all working as hard but there’s still a two-tiered education system.
“I think it’s really important for white students to really challenge this and think about what we’re privileging from and make a change.”
Speaking to the event organisers, Travis, a second year Theology student and LGBT Officer at King’s, and Maria, a third year Medic and POC Officer at King’s, said: “We are staging, protesting and organising a walkout in response to the BME attainment gap which is currently standing nationally and at King’s.”
The stats, which were published yesterday, show that the BME attainment gap at King’s is at 12 per cent, previously 19 per cent, while the national gap is 16.1 per cent.
The organisers continued: “We feel that the recent changes in statistics shows that King’s really doesn’t know what’s going on.
“They’ve included diversity plans and mentor schemes but this protest is coming out of the fact that last week at a ‘Why is my Curriculum white’ panel, all of the POCs present said that they weren’t feeling this and this is an anger in a protest saying that we want more direct action.
“We want money put into postgrads – at the moment there’s only 70 black professors in the UK, only 14 of them are women.”
The group feels that although King’s has made some attempts at being inclusive, they haven’t done enough.
For example, the mural of the female professors at King’s is apparently not as inclusive as it should be – every professor included in the mural is white.
The organisers say: “This isn’t enough – representation really matters. We can’t see people who look like us or represent us in our curriculum.
“Institutionally, King’s is catering to the middle class white males. We are here, we deserve just as much, if not more, to balance it out so we want them to listen to us. It’s not okay for them to say in 5 years time things might be okay.”
Of course the movement is not about condemning white students at King’s, but making sure that more is done in order for POC students get just as many opportunities to succeed as King’s white students.
Charlie, a second year English student, told the Tab: “I think it’s really important for white students to walk out here today in solidarity, it’s recognising that a two-tier education system isn’t fair on anyone.
“BME students aren’t getting the same out of their nine grand as we are. I think it’s about being uncomfortable, it’s about recognising that you are in a position of privilege.
“It’s not about feeling that you’ve done something bad to end up that way, it’s about questioning it.”
The organisers of the event encouraged participants to all send an email to KCL’s Principal, Ed Byrne, with a list of demands.
The group is currently awaiting a response from Ed and are hosting a further event for the POC students of King’s to plan the next step in attaining their goal of a more equal, inclusive and representative University.