“Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” - Ijeoma Oluo.
A few months ago, the KCLSU Officer Team 2019/20 released a statement in response to protests, anti-racist action and the Black Lives Matter movement, which included the commitment to a further statement outlining actions we will look to take and implement as an Officer team and as the Student’s Union. You can read the original statement released here.
One of the first things we want to ensure as your KCLSU Officer Team 2020/21 is that we are actively working towards fighting inequality, discrimination and racism within the King’s community. We want to acknowledge that we have made mistakes previously, where we failed to acknowledge and address past instances of implicit and explicit racism and we want to apologise for any errors made by us. We also want to acknowledge that historically, we have not done enough for our black members and for that we are sorry, and we are committed to doing more.
Since our last statement, we had several crucial conversations with black community leaders within our KCLSU community to ensure we are listening, learning and most significantly, taking action. The following are some of the commitments we are undertaking to combat antiblackness, racial discrimination and to creating safer, more representative spaces for our black members at KCLSU.
What KCLSU has done so far?
- Undertaken a consultation with 15 key black community leaders to understand their experiences with KCLSU so far and understand and action what work we need to do to ensure black students feel supported and represented within our structures
- Launched Black Students Talk – a peer support group that provides safe, supportive and therapeutic spaces for Black students to meet, share, learn, and manage their mental health & wellbeing
- Worked with the KCLSU BME Staff Network to successfully ask the KCLSU Senior Leadership Team to make key changes to internal structure and:
- have a better understanding the state of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at KCLSU through data
- work to ensure our procurement policies support black businesses
- organise a reflection week for all staff so we can work together to challenge discrimination and dismantle institutional racism.
- Continued to work with the university in order to internationalise and decolonise the curriculum
- Our President co-chairs the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Forum with the KCL Director of EDI and has ensured that all our liberation officers are also members of this important committee. The President also sits on the KCL Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by the KCL President & Principal. These meetings allow the need for diversity and inclusion to be championed at the highest levels of KCL policy making.
What the SU are planning to do:
- Launching a Black Students Network: this will be a representative Network for our black members and a collaborative platform for our black cultural societies and coalition groups.
- Launching our ‘Empowering Future Leaders’ programme, an exciting programme that aims to further skill development, empower and inspire our black members to become leaders within KCLSU and beyond. There are seven streams of activities to the programme as detailed below, which are due to launch in November and will run until March 2021 and open exclusively for our black members.
- Inspire: This stream will seek to support our black members in having visible examples of black representation and includes a monthly Project X virtual lecture series delivered by inspiring black community activists, business owners and leaders within their respective fields
- Re-centre: This stream aims to support and nurture our black members mental health and wellbeing, featuring our Black Students Talk sessions and supporting the delivery of peer-led wellbeing sessions
- Empower: This stream aims to ensure our black members feel empowered by raising confidence levels and creating opportunities to lead, featuring a Creating Confidence workshop series and opportunities to be part of our Kings of Kings programme and Widening Participation Buddy Scheme
- Upskill: This stream seeks to equip our black members with specific skills in volunteering, the job market and build on their skill development featuring tailored volunteering and careers workshops
- Resist: This stream seeks to support community organising and activist development for our black members including actively undertaking campaigns workshops for the issues being raised by this community and creating an Activist Development fund
- Represent: This stream seeks to ensure our black members feel represented within KCLSU structures and to nurture connection and collaboration among black student communities and also with other communities within the People of Colour Network
- Ally to Accomplice: This stream seeks to ensure we are educating our broader membership on being in active allyship with their black peers and members of marginalised communities in the student body
- Work alongside and support our to run a brilliant, engaging, virtual Black History Month, focusing on Education and Empowerment
- Continue having conversations about structural racism within the Union and University as an Officer team and student representatives and taking actions as directed by our members
- Actively support student campaigns that examine race, discrimination and equality
- Have an open conversation discussing students’ understanding of Decolonising the Curriculum and the commitments being made by the university and faculties, as well as holding them to account
We realise this is an ongoing conversation and not a one stop shop. It is something that we as a Union are committed to and we want to ensure that all of our students feel safe, supported and empowered within our community and beyond.
If you have any concerns, questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact any of the officers or get in touch by emailing [email protected].
The KCLSU 20/21 Student Officer Team