LUSU FTOs called out for stealing credit from student group’s anti-racism work
‘We feel betrayed, disappointed and disheartened, though not entirely surprised’
In a statement on the 28th September, the LUSU FTOs (Full-Time Officers) outlined the steps they are taking to encourage racial justice at Lancaster University, without giving credit to the people of colour who had already made the same points.
The FTOs posted that they were going to “set the precedent” among universities to “highlight and tackle issues faced by BAME students” and “empower” them to campaign for change. Among the actions they said they are currently taking is a commitment to challenging the university on the Awarding Gap of BAME students. They also said that VP Education Bee Morgan is “further embedding equality, diversity and inclusion” by creating a new set of Academic Rep roles to represent BAME issues.
The commitments are a positive step towards better racial equality at Lancaster University. However, the statement failed to credit the work of the group “Why Is My Curriculum White?”, its 45-page report, or Fabiha Askari.
In the report is a list of recommendations to both Lancaster University and Lancaster University Students’ Union. Co-writer of the report, Aqsa Ahmed, responded to LUSU’s initial post: “It’s good to see you taking inspiration from the work of student campaigners, but a shame to see you not acknowledge the unpaid labour they’ve contributed, not to mention the emotional burdens placed upon them as BAME students.
“Since you were all personally sent the document, I’m sure students would like to see what action you’ve taken from it? If you want more insight, I suggest you engage in the data our campaign created while being unpaid and ignored by the SU.”
Fabiha Askari was the Academic Rep for FASS last academic year, she told The Tab Lancaster: “The least I expect is that the credit is not taken by other people – without any reference to the incredible amount of work members of the WIMCW campaign and other campaigns have put in. Aqsa and Darayus’ fantastic report is referred to in everything but words throughout the statement. I simply cannot understand why any credit or direct reference to their work can not be given.
“In regards to the BAME Academic Reps – this was NEVER an idea that I heard being discussed by Bee or any other Academic Reps. I went directly to the PPR department and presented them this proposal in June. I would have been very happy to hear this idea being presented by the Union and definitely would have supported it if I ever did hear about it. The reason I went directly to the PPR department is honestly because I did not think that the Union would genuinely listen or act upon this idea – especially considering how many other contributions have been disregarded constantly.”
The “Why Is My Curriculum White?” group posted on its Facebook page, condemning the SU for not crediting their ideas and suggestions in its initial post.
In the post, the group takes aim at VP Education, Bee Morgan, saying: “VP Education, Bee Morgan released a report titled ‘Diversifying the Curriculum’ which drew upon the concept of the ‘awarding’ gap discussed in detail in the ‘Built-in Barriers’ report. Again, however, no credit or acknowledgement was given to Aqsa and Darayus for their hard work in essentially providing the backbone of Bee’s report.”
When contacted for comment, LUSU’s FTO team said: “Students’ union officers initiated a meeting with representatives of Why Is My Curriculum White? this week. It’s clear that there has been a breakdown in communications between the SU and WIMCW, which is something we deeply regret.
“Our initial discussion this week was productive and we look forward to rebuilding our relationship with the group from hereon in.”
The General Secretary of the “Why Is My Curriculum White?” group, Jude Rowley, told The Tab Lancaster: “We’d like to stress that [the FTOs’ ‘initial meeting’] was a personal discussion between one of the FTOs and two members of the WIMCW exec, it was not an official meeting between the two organisations.”