I write to you all with a reflection on the world outside LJMU. We are currently living in our own university bubble, focussing on bringing the university back together and looking to the future.
And then the shocking death of George Floyd and the dignified anger rolling out from across the USA and in our own cities has made me look up, look out from LJMU and think very deeply.
Black lives matter shouldn’t just be a campaign. It’s outrageous that we exist in a world where social and economic injustice is prevalent because of the colour of your skin. So what can we do apart from march and protest against racism? What can we do alongside our black students and staff here, now and in the future?
We can and will call it out. Racism is not welcome here. We respect everyone at LJMU. Together, we will reach out further to embrace the black community in Liverpool and beyond. LJMU is part of your story and we will help all of our BAME students and staff to achieve their full potential. We see you and we stand shoulder to shoulder with you.
If you don’t think this is serious, I really don’t think this is the right university for you.
Our future plan states clearly that we will seek to reduce the attainment gap and improve the recruitment and retention of BAME students. It isn’t easy but we are determined. We are matching our words with action, including developing an advisory council with our students to work together on the attainment gap and rolling out unconscious bias training for us all.
Since arriving here seven months ago, I have been involved in a reciprocal mentoring scheme, organised between ourselves and our fantastic students’ union (JMSU).
Nine black students have been working alongside individuals from our executive team to help us to understand how it feels to be a black student in a predominantly white environment. This isn’t paying lip service to a campaign, this has been a deeply moving and overwhelming experience for all of us and has given us an insight into how we must shape ourselves in the future to welcome, promote and protect our BAME community.
I am truly grateful to JMSU and our equality and diversity team for initiating this scheme and for introducing me to my mentor, Sacha who has been brilliant in working with me and helping me to understand. Quite frankly, it has radically altered my own perceptions of life and study for a black person.
So what’s the point? Well, I have a platform, I have a voice, I have influence and I am going to do something about it – black lives do matter and this will be front and centre of our thinking as we bounce forward from this pandemic.