Lincoln SU admits it has failed black students

The University of Lincoln Students’ Union has failed black students and not done enough to support them, according to its own chief executive.

Chief executive James Brooks acknowledged that black students have “raised their voices, but they have, on the whole, been ignored”.

He also revealed that over the last few years the SU has had several complaints of reports of racism involving Engine Shed door staff, which it has taken seriously.

Brooks said that usually statements are made by the elected student leaders but, after reading the experiences of black students’ involvement with the SU, he wanted to publicly speak to them.

He said: “I recognise that the SU has failed you. As someone who has worked in the Students’ Union movement for the past 20 years, I can reflect, and acknowledge that black students have raised their voices, but they have, on the whole, been ignored.

“In Lincoln, we have a strong history of black student leaders and trustees, however, if I am honest, we as a union, have not gone far enough to support those individuals to make the change that is needed at the university, or within the SU. I need to do better, and we as a staff team need to do better.”

As a result, he has committed to making several changes with immediate effect from June 16:

  • It will now be offering a guaranteed preliminary interview to anyone who is from a BAME background and applies for any of the staff roles, student or career staff
  • Any complaint that includes an allegation of racism will be reviewed by a complaints officer, independent from the SU and from a BAME background. Any recommendation made by the independent person will be acted upon
  • In light of new concerns raised, the SU will seek further honest feedback and suggestions from its black student members on how the SU’s services and activities can be improved. They want to make sure black students have a permanent voice in the operation of the SU’s services and activities
  • Brooks will recommend to the SU’s trustee board that for a minimum period of 12 months it co-opts the BAME Students Officer to sit as a member of the board
  • It recognises that an “unconscious bias” exists within the SU so will introduce training and resources for all staff. This will make sure that the SU does better in understanding the experience of black students and staff

Brooks added: “As your Students’ Union it is not enough for us to be ‘not racist’, we must be anti-racist and seek justice, not just on campus and lecture theatres, but in society.

“For as long as there is the inequality I promise that we are going to listen, keep talking about it, exposing it and stand with our Black students and staff to drive change.”

A spokesperson for the University of Lincoln, said: “The University of Lincoln abhors racism in all its forms and we take seriously the concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter campaign.

“Universities should be beacons for their community, representing all that is best in humanity and standing against injustices.

“We are working to create change for greater equality such as decolonising the curriculum and making it more inclusive, and addressing unacceptable differential attainment.

“We welcome colleagues and students helping us with this work.

“We acknowledge that we need to do more to create a more equal environment. We know we have a lot to learn and need to improve as a whole community, staff and students together.”

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