“They’ve shot themselves in the foot”: Lincoln students on the SU’s BLM statement
The statement even failed a plagiarism checker test
Students at the University of Lincoln have been criticising the Students’ Union’s Chief Executive’s statement in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
It was revealed by The Lincoln Tab that the statement had been copied from Essex Uni’s SU statement and many students have voiced their disappointment in the SU.
In response to this, ULSU added to their statements on social media, “We are, of course, aware of the statement made by Essex SU. We strongly agreed with the sentiments of their statement and recognised that many of them needed to be applied to our union. Every pledge that our CEO made in the statement is specific and relevant to Lincoln and will push us to continue working for the interest of Black students and the wider BAME community. We want all of our students to see what we put out last night as a statement of intent and to use it to hold us to account.”
Many Lincoln students have branded the copying of the statement as “disgraceful” and “embarrassing”. There have been calls for the statement to be taken down and for a new one to be written.
An apology has since been made.
The University of Lincoln has since released a statement confirming that the Students’ Union is an independent organisation from the University.
In a social media post they said, “Lincoln Students’ Union is an independent organisation and communicates with its own members. The University of Lincoln is not holding a referendum.
“We are aware that Lincoln Students’ Union is holding a referendum ‘to lobby the University of Lincoln to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement by providing more educational materials, engaging support and demonstrate positive activism’.
“We support their right to do so but would like to say for the sake of all of our students, staff and alumni that the University of Lincoln is, and always has been, fully committed to our black students, and the global Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged us to redouble our efforts to stamp out racism. This is not our referendum and regardless of the outcome the University of Lincoln will take action.”
To all staff, students and alumni:
Lincoln Students’ Union is an independent organisation and communicates with its own members.
The University of Lincoln is not holding a referendum. (1/5)
— University of Lincoln, UK (@unilincoln) June 18, 2020
We spoke to Lincoln students on their views about the statement:
“I’m just disappointed but not surprised”
Seun Alaba, a student at the University of Lincoln told to The Lincoln Tab, “I’m just disappointed but not surprised they did something like that. A lot of their responses in the past have been generic and reactive. They’ve shot themselves in the foot with regards to their referendum as it seems as though they don’t really care all that much.
“It doesn’t take too long to issue a genuine statement, other SUs have made their own so I don’t understand why they felt the need to copy Essex Student Union’s. I’m just annoyed because I thought they were making good progress, clearly, they’ve got a long way to go to improve their relationship with BME students.”
“I think it’s embarrassing”
Jas Nandoo a student who had prior emailed the University to speak out after the killing of George Floyd, told The Lincoln Tab, “I mean the fact that we had to email them to put out a statement in the first place is disappointing, then when it finally starts to look up there’s this. I think it’s embarrassing. And it’s a shame because my course is amazing but saying I go there as a mixed student is embarrassing now”
First they didn't speak out. Then a referendum on whether or not uni should still discriminate. Now @lincolnSU has blatantly copied and pasted a statement from @EssexSU. But yet when it comes to dissertation plagiarism is the worst possible crime…. @unilincoln? Ok.
— Jas (@JasNandoo) June 17, 2020
“It really hurt”
A former student at the University told The Tab, “In short it really hurt. Personally I’m beyond words in how something like this could even happen. Seeing as Lincoln is already a predominantly white city the fact that a fresh “personal” statement couldn’t have been made just goes to show how much the SU really care about their BAME student community. As if the community wasn’t already hurting.”
“The students were relying on them”
Georgette Fischer, a student at the University of Lincoln told the Lincoln Tab, “I just think it’s disgraceful, especially considering that they didn’t even speak out properly in the first place about it and simply turned their logo black. The students were relying on them to reach out to them on a personal level. It’s genuinely embarrassing that they can’t even muster up the right words to say at such a difficult time.
“Also, the fact that they didn’t even get the BAME officer involved in the statement is even worse. The follow-up statement was as equally embarrassing. There was no apology, just an acknowledgment that they had copied the statement. There is an element of trust that students put into their university for the 3/4 years that they are there and undoubtedly many students will have lost trust in the university after this.”
“Blanket statements are not enough”
Charlotte Dacre, an Ecology student at the University told The Tab, “‘Their’ statement also did not reflect important and individual issues that are occurring specifically at Lincoln. Blanket statements are not enough. Their lack of acknowledgment for essentially plagiarising another SU’s recommendations and apologies is disgusting. They only mentioned the association AFTER they were called out on it. The BAME community deserves a formal apology.”
Honestly, it was shocking, disrespectful and hurtful. I’m not a member of the BAME community, so I can’t imagine how let down they feel by this appalling attempt to apologise to the students and staff at UOL on systematic racism. I’m sad. I feel as if no-one will take the SU seriously on other important matters now, they’ve let everyone down, but especially those impacted most: the BAME community.”
“I absolutely agree with the sentiment that there should be a resignation”
Calvin Bissitt, a Politics student at the university, told The Lincoln Tab, “This whole fiasco with the BLM post highlights how out of touch the SU is. I absolutely agree with the sentiment that there should be a resignation for whoever decided that this was acceptable to deliver to students, and a clear apology which shows students that the SU is both genuinely sorry for having seemed to just jump on the band-wagon without actually caring, and that they’re gonna do something about this.
“It’s absolutely shameless that after all the effort ACS have put into the referendum motion, that the SU couldn’t be arsed to put together a personal message and instead relied on copying nearly 60% of Essex SUs post! It’s an insult to all their hard work and determination and they have every right to be outraged! I really am sorry to all the students who’ve put in such an amazing effort that have now received such a colossal slap in the face as this, followed by nothing but weak excuses in defence!
“You deserve better, and frankly, the best damn apology ever written by our SU!”
“It’s incredibly careless”
A former Lincoln student told The Lincoln Tab, “I think the fact the chief executive of Lincoln copied Essex’s SU statement is really disappointing and incredibly careless. This was the chief opportunity to show how much the uni cares for its student no matter their background but he really did a lazy job and it says a lot about the university itself. People wonder why black people don’t speak up more often bout the inequality and their experiences because they get half-arsed responses like such and most people genuinely don’t care because they get to live in their bubble or white privilege.
“It is incredibly dehumanising. How is it so difficult to provide a personal statement after hearing these tragic stories. Did they even watch the video of George Floyd dying? Did they hear the story of Breonna Taylor? What even about Stephen Lawrence’s death? You can tell a lot about a person based on their actions and this statement shows a lot about the chief and his views on BAME.”
“I feel second-hand embarrassment from their actions”
Élise Fischer, told The Lincoln Tab, “I had previously worked for the SU as a receptionist. I’ve stood by them in all their decisions, actions and have always felt proud to be an SU member. However, I now genuinely feel ashamed to have to be associated with the organisation; it’s almost as though I feel second-hand embarrassment from their actions? There has to be action against this as it’s completely and utterly unacceptable, an apology won’t do.”
“Actions speak louder than words”
Mickey, a University of Lincoln alumni told The Lincoln Tab, “I think actions speak louder than words and if the current head wasn’t considerate enough to form a personal and educated response, the SU is severely lacking in both. An email is just an email. If you cared about your students enough, you should have taken the time to form a response. I also question how others have okayed the decision and thought it was a good idea in the first place. It shows how out of touch the whole department potentially is from the struggles of their black student population.
“The University is a business, the SU is supposed to be the voice of that business. The voice that is meant to represent the students who invest their time and money into giving these people their jobs. Their respect was not shown or reflected back. So if it hasn’t already been a PR suicide, they best form actions fast and MEAN it.”
“As a BAME student, I’m very disappointed”
Byron Chapman told The Lincoln Tab, “So as a BAME student studying at UOL, I’m very disappointed and quite frankly angry at how the uni has handled the BLM movement and its support for their BAME students entirely. Not only did they have to be emailed about their silence using other unhappy students opinions on the matter for them to speak up and show support and cater for their students who suffer from racist comments and treatment. The copying of Essex unis statement was very upsetting because when we the SU put out their first response about their silence, students including myself saw this as a change by the uni and them sincerely recognising that they need to improve and be a beacon for all their students but specifically the black and greater BAME community…but nope their second statement literally being caught out for plagiarism is embarrassing to the students of UOL but also very rude and insincere.”
“How can we trust the sentiment behind them?”
James Morris, another student at the University of Lincoln told The Lincoln Tab, “I remember reading it over the first time thinking that this was a really great statement and I was proud to be part of the SU, which I usually am. However, after finding out about the Essex SUs statement. All of these happy emotions seemed to drain away, everyone read that statement as if it was from the CEO himself, as it is signed by him – however, it is clear these are not his words and therefore how can we trust the sentiment behind them?”
“This is just shameful and I think the chief exec. needs to resign”
Maisy Fincham said, “Just makes me think if they can’t even come up with their own statement on it, how in the hell are they supposed to do any action on it? Just proves their willful ignorance on the issue and they would prefer to be seen doing something rather than *actually* doing something. This is just shameful and I think the chief exec. needs to resign.”
“It’s about time a huge restructuring occurs”
Oliver Stemp told The Tab, “It shows that Lincoln SU has no respect for any of its students. They only value being seen to do something rather than actually carrying anything out. This is the latest in a line of failures for the SU and it’s about time a huge restructuring occurs”
“My thoughts are with the BAME members of the university”
Callum Gibson told The Tab, “I’m angered, disgusted and appalled by the behaviour from the SU and how it represents the students. I feel really sorry for the university having to put up with the SU countless problems and times they have been in the media for poor practises over the years and severely damaging the university’s great reputation. There have been consistent issues with the ethical and moral representation of the students by the SU. My thoughts are with the BAME members of the university for the SU disgraceful leadership. I encourage all students to speak up and stand up for your rights & thoughts as this is your university, your future, your experience, your SU!”
Lincoln’s ACS society has since released a statement regarding the statement, saying, “We as a committee are imploring James Brooks to withdraw the statement previously issued and pay the black students of Lincoln the courtesy of submitting a statement in his own words.”
Lincoln SU’s CEO has since released an apology about the statement, “Firstly, I would like to sincerely apologise to all our students and members in Lincoln and to the members, students and staff at Essex Students’ Union.
I understand the statement which I issued on June 16th was deemed insincere and disingenuous in its form and its message. We have removed the statement after discussions with some of our student members and recognise that it is 100% the correct thing to do.”