LJMU and JMSU statements on BLM – June 2020
LJMU statement: Vice-Chancellor Ian Campbell
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.
JMSU stands in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
We stand with you, in the fight for justice.
We stand with you, in the fight for equality and inclusion.
We stand with you, to put an end to the systemic racism and discrimination.
We stand with you, because you matter.
Because Black Lives Matter.
At JMSU, we pledge that we will not stay silent; that we will call out racism and injustice. That we will do our part to put an end to the systematic discrimination you have too long put up with. We pledge to stand with you and we pledge to fight for your justice.
At JMSU we continue to commit to stand in solidarity for inclusion and equality. We condemn racial discrimination that the Black community has too long put up with. We pledge that we will not stay silent and call out injustice.
Institutional racism against Black people is not foreign to the UK. It’s not just a U.S. problem, it’s ingrained in our society and its roots deep in every aspect of our lives - from education to healthcare, the courts to the police, all these systems benefit from not telling us the whole truth.
The truth that colonialism destroyed entire communities while benefiting others. The lynching, persecution and slavery; they helped build some of the most beautiful buildings of the modern world, they helped create the society we live in today. Black people were raped, black people had their children taken away, black people were treated like animals. But the history books won’t tell you that; and still, they won’t teach you that such violence, hate and discrimination still exists in today’s world.
Due to this systematic racism, black people today, are 9 times more likely to be stopped for a stop and search are twice as likely to die in prison. Black women are 5 times more likely to die during pregnancy. Black people are less likely to go to university, and when they do, black students are more likely to drop out. If they do stick around though, nationally black students are 26% less likely to be awarded a good honours degree, even when they come in with the same grades as their white counterparts. And of course, more recently we have seen that black and BAME people are more likely from COVID.
So, we cannot say ‘all lives matter’.
All lives don’t matter because according to our society black lives don’t matter, and only when black lives matter, will all lives matter.
Dear black students, we see you; we hear you. We understand that some of us will never understand, but we stand with you.
Dear white students and non-black students of colour, we cannot stay silent. It is no longer enough to be not racist; we must be anti-racist. We must challenge the system and join the fight for justice for our black brothers and sisters, in the U.S., here at home, in the UK and across the world. We must use our privilege to elevate their voices. We must pass the mic.
Our privilege is so powerful. We can choose to be complacent, or we can choose to use our privilege to be actively anti-racist. We must choose to stand up to injustice and educate ourselves to learn about a type of discrimination that, as white people and non-black people of colour, we have not experienced and will never have to experience.
Or, we can choose to be silent, but remember that silence speaks volumes to your complicity.
We must say ENOUGH to violence, and that includes silence. We must say ENOUGH to discrimination, in the classroom, at work, in the streets and in our own homes. We must not sit idly. We must call it out.
Black Lives Matter.
While the world is showing its outrage and taking to the streets to protest, we know there is so much more work to be done long-term and change stems from looking inwards. That is why at John Moores Students’ Union:
We pledge that we will not stay silent.
We pledge to call out racism and injustice.
We pledge to invest in our Black students and Black students' campaigns.
We pledge to continue our work in closing the Black Attainment Gap and decolonising the curriculum.
We pledge to support our Black students in representation, including Student Officers, the BAME student network, African-Caribbean Society and across student groups.
We pledge to diversify our organisation and work alongside the University to ensure that representation exists within our structures.
We pledge to continue the work of the reciprocal mentoring scheme with the University.
We pledge to work to improve the experience of Black students, in and outside of the classroom. We pledge to listen to you, we pledge to learn from you.
We pledge to support you and to support the Black community in Liverpool.
We pledge to educate ourselves and support the education of others.
We pledge to be the organisation we want others to be.
Julia Daer – President
Lila Tamea – Vice President Academic Quality
Mollie Foster – Vice President Activities
Megan Hill – Vice President Community Engagement
In tribute of: Anthony Walker, Stephen Lawrence, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson and many others.