We are all aware of how urgently universities need to be striving towards true inclusivity and how becoming actively anti-racist needs to be a top priority from now on. 2020 has finally seen a rise in institutions being held accountable for racism and being confronted with how they can do better. This is something that us at the Guild, as well as University of Exeter, have been working extremely hard on over the summer. Here is a brief rundown of some of the things we have been working on:
The Unlearn Collective
- The Unlearn Collective was set up by a group of students earlier this year in order to hold the University to account on it’s claims of being anti-racist and attempts to decolonise the curriculum. The Collective, which was set up in June, states “The aim here is to not just learn antiracism but to unlearn racist practices and self-criticise: essentially, to look inward before we speak of our global outlook”. Since then, we have had two meetings with representatives from the Guild, the University and the Collective themselves, with plans for continuous contact going forward. From these meeting, a specific set of goals and plans have been put in place from both a University and Guild perspective.
Changes the University are implementing:
- Since the initial meeting with both the University and the Unlearn Collective, a budget of £25,000 has been secured for student-led projects around anti-racist practices in education.
- They have also committed a budget of £2.5k to go towards supporting the decolonising network and allowing them to grow.
- The University has also committed to hiring an Associate Academic Dean for Racial Inequality and Inclusion.
These actions are hopefully the start of ensuring Exeter becomes an anti-racist institution that listens to its students and supports them in every way they can. At the Guild, we recently ran a course on racism for all student leaders in the coming year, led by the Diversity Trust. This training explored things such as white privilege, recognising what racism looks like and the importance of reporting/calling it out. The feedback from this session was really positive and we are keen to run more events like this throughout the year.
It has never been clearer that organisations need to be doing more to combat racism, but hopefully, with the help of the student voice such as those at the Unlearn Collective, Exeter can continue to make steps towards becoming genuinely inclusive.
If you want to get in touch to discuss how you can get involved, email Ruby at firstname.lastname@example.org.