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Update on our work on race equality

The last few weeks have demonstrated clearly the need to tackle racial inequality within society and indeed within our university. At the University of Sussex, this work is guided by the Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team (SAT) – chaired by the Provost, Saul Becker – who have identified areas for investigation within the institution.

Since the last update, a lot of work has been ongoing at the University of Sussex to advance race equality. The Vice-Chancellor and Provost have also issued a statement in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

The BAME Ambassador pilot met with much success in the six schools it was trialled in since January this year.

Naaz Rashid, Race Equality Director in the School of Media, Film and Music (MFM) and Deputy Chair of the Race Equality Charter SAT, says: “MFM’s BAME ambassadors have played a vital role in the School, providing an invaluable insight into BAME student experiences. We have been impressed by their commitment and, as MFM becomes Media, Arts and Humanities (MAH), we are committed to using their insight to implement positive changes in the learning experience to address the BAME awarding gap and ensure a supportive, positive environment, free of racism for all our students." 

Meena Zaveri, the BAME Awarding Gap Researcher, says: “The BAME Ambassadors have been collecting the BAME student voice for the first time at Sussex and have lobbied their schools to implement action over the past three months.

“They have engaged several key members of staff in their departments, highlighted inequalities in student experience and brought solutions to the table. They have done this in challenging circumstances, sometimes with resistance within schools, lack of cultural competency and in the midst of a global pandemic with an adverse effect on BAME communities which has seen the Ambassadors with family in front line work, facing bereavement and the stresses of returning to home countries. However, they have worked tirelessly and done amazing work despite its challenges.”

It is hoped that the BAME Ambassador scheme will be rolled out across the whole university for the next academic session.

The Race Equality Charter SAT have now collectively written their full Terms of Reference and a mission statement: “Using an anti-racist lens, to tackle institutional racism and racial inequality through identifying and challenging the structural, cultural and other barriers, practices and discourses at the University of Sussex.”

Additionally, the Race Equality Charter SAT have created three sub-groups, which will investigate different areas in depth. The three sub-groups are open for staff to express interest in joining; the chair of each sub-group will then select members from across the institution, trying to ensure a sufficient breadth of colleagues across both academic schools and Professional Services divisions to support the work.

The sub-groups are:

  • Student Experience – this will be chaired by Ijlal Khalid, outgoing Society and Citizenship Officer and incoming International Students’ Officer at the Students’ Union
  • Staff Experience – this will be chaired by Victoria Babatunde, Employment Assistant in the Careers and Employability Centre. Victoria is also co-chair of both the BAME and Disabled Staff Networks and is the Equalities Officer for the local UNISON branch
  • Institutional Culture – this will be chaired by Sharon Neal, Assistant Director of Culture and Inclusion in Human Resources, and Daniel Akinbosede, PhD student in Biochemistry

If you want to join one of these sub-groups, please email Ilyas Nagdee by the end of the day on Friday 3 July with a brief explanation on what you’d like to do as part of the sub-group and your current role. This information will be passed to the chairs, who will then finalise the membership of the groups.

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Posted on behalf of: EDI Unit and Race Equality Charter Self Assessment Team
Last updated: Wednesday, 24 June 2020