Meet Irede and Jordan, the Lancs students behind the BLM insta pledge
‘It’s difficult living in a predominantly white area’
A university is meant to reflect its student body. In response to BLM, Lancaster university took part in #BlackoutTuesday and later tweeted out resources in Insta stories consisting of book recommendations explaining white supremacy, identity and race from the perspective of black authors. The SU recommended two books themselves and took suggestions from students, which was something, but not what would be expected of the International University of the Year. Later, the University was seen to revoke David Starkey’s degree after he claimed slavery wasn’t a form of genocide as “so many damn blacks” had survived it.
This leads us to question the response in Lancaster University – Why they haven’t done enough and why students are outraged at their response to this matter. A university that has 200 members in its ACS society in 2019, would be expected to show support or sympathy to the Black Lives Matter movement but instead, have demonstrated behaviour as being “performative”.
Over the past few months we have seen uproar, protests and drastic changes in America over an event that would be documented in our history books for years to come. The horrific murder of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis caused a stirring of hearts not only in America but all over the world. It caused a change in how brands view or recruit black people, the representation of black people in the media and so much more.
This has also had an affect on young people all over the world, from young adults to students to teenagers. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, about four in ten (41%) of those who say they recently attended a protest focused on race are younger than 30; among all adults 19% are in this age group (US). We can say the same for the UK also, as young people are outraged over how our British educational system has been ‘watered down’ in a way that we don’t learn about our black history enough.
Being a black person in Lancaster already presents its challenges. ACS President for Lancaster University Irede, states how it’s difficult “living in a predominantly white area” and there is almost a tendency to “integrate and be accepting within white communities.”
This seems to be the case for many other black students at universities with a high population of white people. Which can lead us to question do they understand racial prejudice just like black students do? Or is it left to them to bear the weight of racial differences and the emotional weight of injustice in America.
Similarly Jordan, also a black student at Lancaster describes how the lack of ethnically diverse staff is reflected at Lancaster within lecturers, mentors and tutors. It can be quite disheartening to not see staff members who resemble you and can lead you to question whether there needs to be an addition of these ethnicities within the university staff.
For Lancaster University, a university which takes on black students and prides itself promoting networks which help with equality and diversity, it is shocking to see how they have reacted to the rising of the movements, with behaviours being deemed as preformative, only acting on the major issues that may “damage their public image” as a university.
Jordan mentions how a better approach would have been to “convene together, analysed together and thought of a logical solution to addressing the problem.” Suggestions included creating a statistics report of facts about staff and students which would be released publicly to demonstrate that they care, and they would make an effort to improve their statistics on ethnic people at Lancaster University.
Additionally, Irede points out how there may be no right or wrong way to respond to this matter, but the fact that the university not publicly acknowledging the issue was what caused the anger to start- this should have been done better. Better things can be included such as raising more awareness of the ACS society or raising awareness of events on ethnic minorities, all which shows practical steps to encourage students to support groups which have been affected by the situation the most.
Max Kafula, Lancaster’s BAME Student Officer Elect agreed that both the union and Lancaster can do better when it comes to BLM. “In my time as the BAME officer, I’ve talked to the communications team and have them tips on how to promote causes, tell the stories from BAME students on what’s it’s like to be a minority in the country and acknowledging the racial institutional problems that still hinders us. These are small steps in the right direction to build a better inclusive and a much more aware society”