Written by our Student Officer team
As members of the National Union of Students’ we would like to extend our solidarity with the NUS Black Students’ Campaign along with the full-time officers and National Executive Council (NEC) Members who define into the campaign.
NUS has gone through an Institutional Racism Review (IRR) as demanded by its president Malia Bouattia last year in her role as Black Students’ Officer. The review was called for as a result of the racism faced by people of colour within the National Union of Students and the wider student movement. Last week NEC members of colour withdrew their labour from the NUS NEC meeting to mark a year since the review was called and to highlight the unacceptable conditions that students of colour, officers and volunteers continue to endure despite their invaluable contributions to the student movement.
The IRR findings demonstrate severe institutional failings of the NUS towards its staff, elected officers and volunteers. The IRR outlines recommendations to the national union of which the organisation and president have pledged to implement immediately. .
It is important to note that racism and institutional failings are not unique to NUS and are present in every institution and student union across the country. NUS has made a crucial step towards improving the structures and cultures that permeate our student unions through the IRR. Student unions have a responsibility to emulate this. Additionally, although the report provides the institutional language to tackle these some of failures it is not reflective of the lived experience of those who have previously and are still experiencing racism within the movement and in their roles.
We have seen the introduction of language declaring “misrepresentation” and statements calling people “out of touch” when the number of people of colour has been at its highest; we have seen a lack of committed support for people of colour from many within the movement; we have seen the mental and physical toll that the racism existent in the movement has on PoC, including those on NEC and the full-time officer team; and this year, from the moment the NUS Conference elected Malia Bouattia as their president, we have seen an institutional failure to protect her, ensure her wellbeing and support her.
It is time for the student movement to take a critical look inwards, and do better. We must not ignore the reality of the situation. In order to ensure our movement is strong, we must all work to listen to and combat the issues highlighted by Students, Officers and NEC members of colour and the Black Students’ Campaign. We cannot continue in this way; we must now work together to move forwards and create a movement that is truly inclusive, liberated and accessible for all.
Read here a statement from the NUS Black Students’ Campaign.