‘I recognise that the SU has failed you’: Lincoln’s SU Chief Executive speaks out

‘We must be anti-racist and seek justice, not just on campus and lecture theatres, but in society.’

In a statement on social media, the University’s Students’ Union Chief Executive, James Brooks, felt the need “to publicly speak to our Black students.”

The statement from the Chief Executive makes clear it is unusual for him to make statements like this however he found himself in a “unique position” from reading experiences of Black students’ to speak out.

He continues, “I recognise that the SU has failed you. As someone who has worked in the Students’ Union movement for the past 20 years, I can reflect, and acknowledge that Black students have raised their voices, but they have, on the whole, been ignored,

In Lincoln, we have a strong history of Black student leaders and Trustees, however, if I am honest, we as a Union, we have not gone fare enough to support those individuals to make the change that is needed at the university level, or within the SU. I need to do better, and we as staff team need to do better.”

With immediate effect, the Chief Executive listed the changes to take place in the SU.

1. Diversity in staff

“We recognise that the diversity of our permanent staff is not yet reflective of our society. We will now be offering a guaranteed preliminary interview to anyone who is from a BAME background and applies for any of our staff roles, student or career staff.”

2. Complaints about racism

“We have had several complaints over the last few years involving reports of racism involving Engine Shed door staff. We have taken these seriously but moving forward, any complaint that includes an allegation of racism will be reviewed by a complaints officer, independent from the SU and from a BAME background, to ensure that our Black students can be confident that we have taken their complaint seriously and it will be fairly heard. Any recommendation made by the independent person will be acted upon.”

3. Feedback and suggestions

“In light of new concerns raised, we will be seeking further, honest feedback and suggestions from our Black student members on how the Students’ Union’s services and activities can be improved. We will work on this feedback with our Black student representatives to make sure that Black students have a permanent voice in the operation of our services and activities.”

4. BAME Officer

“In recognition of the importance of having Black students represented at the highest levels of Students’ Union decision making and accountability, I will be recommending to our Trustee Board that for a minimum period of 12 months we co-opt the BAME Officer to sit as a member of the Board.”

5. Training and resources

“We recognise that unconscious bias exists within the Students’ Union and that we have to address this. We will start this by introducing and resources for all staff to make sure that we do better in understanding the experience of Black students and staff.”

He continues on to say “As your Students’ Union it is not enough for us to be ‘not racist’, we must be anti-racist and seek justice, not just on campus and lecture theatres, but in society.

“For as long as there is the inequality I promise that we are going to listen, keep talking about it, exposing it and stand with our Black students and staff to drive change.”

A spokesperson for the University of Lincoln, said: “The University of Lincoln abhors racism in all its forms and we take seriously the concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter campaign.

“Universities should be beacons for their community, representing all that is best in humanity and standing against injustices. We are working to create change for greater equality such as decolonising the curriculum and making it more inclusive, and addressing unacceptable differential attainment. We welcome colleagues and students helping us with this work.

“We acknowledge that we need to do more to create a more equal environment. We know we have a lot to learn and need to improve as a whole community, staff and students together.”

This comes after the news of the SU to hold a referendum to get the University to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Voting opens today, click here to vote.

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