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Sheffield SU bans white students from attending ‘anti-racism’ meetings

It emerged today


Sheffield Students' Union has been criticised for banning white students from attending meetings for its new "anti-racism" policy.

The organisation announced on Tuesday that it is shifting from a "non-racist to an actively anti-racist" stance.

But SU bosses say "only black and minority ethnic students" will be allowed into meetings to share their views.

The move sparked controversy on social media, with some accusing meeting organisers of racism. However, others rushed to defend the decision, insisting it allows BME people a safe space to share their experiences of racism.

The meetings are due to be led by the National Union of Students, who are carrying out an audit of the institution in an aim to better support students who encounter racial prejudice.

The Sheffield Tab understands that the policy change will involve the SU taking more active measures to confront racist language and actions.

It follows outcry over a Uni of Sheffield student throwing a banana at a black Hallam student during Varsity ice hockey in 2018.

Announcing the new policy on Tuesday, SU women's officer Rosa Tully and welfare officer Beren Maddison said on Facebook that the focus groups, based in the Octagon, are "open to BME students only".

"Sheffield Students' Union want to make a change from being simply non-racist to actively anti-racist," Tully's post adds.

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Sheffield SU officers announced the "BME only" meetings on Facebook

"To do so, we are enlisting a member of the National Union of Students to audit the Students Union to see what we can do better.

"However, we need your help to incorporate your ideas and experiences into our work. We are hosting two focus groups on the 14th of October, open to BME students only."

Last month students at the Uni of Edinburgh drew criticism for planning to hold an "anti-racism" event where white attendees were barred from asking questions.

University staff raised concerns after reading promo material for the conference, named Resisting Whiteness, which said: "We will not be giving the microphone to white people during the Q&As, not because we don’t think white people have anything to offer to the discussion but because we want to amplify the voices of people of colour."

Sheffield SU and the NUS were both unavailable for comment when contacted by The Sheffield Tab on Tuesday afternoon.

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