Over 400 black students demand Warwick investigate the uni’s colonial ‘legacy’
Six Warwick societies collaborated on the demands
A collective of Black Warwick students has demanded the university implement specific changes in aid of the Black Lives Matter movement.
An open letter, signed by six university societies, The Black Women’s Project, and prominent SU figures, says the university must show its earlier statement was not “a media stunt.”
The letter makes eight demands, including an investigation into security services at Warwick, retraining of staff in anti-oppression, and the creation of a report system for complaints about racism.
“For the Black students at Warwick, words and statements are not enough,” it reads. “We expect our demands to be heard and want to see a tangible difference in how the University operates.”
To The University of Warwick,
For the Black students at Warwick, words and statements are not enough. Coming together with societies representing more than 400 Black students we have come together to table our demands. pic.twitter.com/Uep5riZLwD
— Warwick East African Society (@WarwickEASOC) July 20, 2020
The letter demands the following:
1. The adoption of a definition of racism by the university
The letter-writers have suggested a definition which can be read here.
2. The creation of a complaints system for students to report racism and discriminatory behaviour from the university
The university is in the process of creating a system at present, however the letter-writers are demanding the signatories are included in the consultation process.
3. An investigation into Warwick’s campus security
The letter-writers cite “numerous” allegations of racial profiling at the university and say they want the uniforms of campus security altered to less resemble traditional police uniforms, which they say “can remind students of past traumatic encounters.”
4. The creation of an easily accessible yearly pool fund for the celebration, appreciation and education of Black history
The letter accuses the university of leaving the organisation of Black History month events in the hands of Black students without making the money to do so easily accessible.
5. An investigation into, and the undoing of the University of Warwick’s colonial legacies and neocolonial practices
The letter cites The Radcliffe Building, named after Warwick’s first Vice-Chancellor, Viscount Radcliffe, who drew the partition lines separating the Bengal region into India and Pakistan resulting in death and displacement of millions.
The letter also demands the university pay staff to look into any links to colonialism and “divest from any complicity it has with (ongoing) neocolonial practices across the world.”
6. A commitment by the university to The Decolonise Project
“There should also be two full-time co-ordinators employed – one coordinator should be from the University and the other should remain in the SU,” the letter reads. “These two coordinators should constantly liaise and communicate with one another to ensure the University remains committed financially and practically to the work and the results of the project.
“This includes ensuring that academic departments cooperate fully with the decolonising teams, with the support of Heads of Department; entailing the allocation of an appropriate faculty member (DSE or other) from each department to work directly with student staff on the project.”
7. The retraining of all student-facing staff within the university
The letter specifies this training should come “from an organisation vetted by anti-racist activists.”
8. The creation and maintenance of a widening participation programme for Black students within the community
Acknowledging the university’s pre-existing commitment to outreach, the letter says these new programme should focus on the “relationship between race and the student experience.”
You can read the full open letter here. The University has been approached for comment.
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Featured image via SWNS