Hey! Salaam, everyone. I'm Sabrina, your Co-President for Democracy and Education for the 20/21 Academic Year. I cannot wait to meet you all and work together to reimagine what the SOAS SU can and should be, and demand more from the university for a free, fair and decolonised education.
I ran on a liberation led manifesto, whereby my work this year will be led by the students, you, the Union. I am the first one to say that truly dismantling the systems of oppression that universities exist within, will not happen within the Student Union structure. However, ensuring that we are all as informed and empowered as possible while fighting for free, decolonised education, will allow us to push anti-racism work further and strengthen class consciousness. Fighting for the liberation and freedom of all oppressed people everywhere needs to be a collective endeavour and will allow for collective growth and wellbeing as a community and beyond.
When we speak of decolonisation, we need to think further than reading lists. SOAS Students have always pushed to demand more from the institution, especially around decolonising education and we are at a seminal point in SOAS’ history where we can reinvigorate “Decolonising SOAS”, where we can diversify knowledge production and sharing; moving away from Western, eurocentric forms of learning and assessment. Diversifying reading lists is just one aspect of what decolonising knowledge should look like at SOAS and beyond, we must ensure that SOAS rejects all systems of oppression and the colonisation of indigenous lands and people, this includes terminating the training contract with the Ministry of Defence, for example. The knowledge that we access at SOAS in order to address and strive for decolonisation, should not be used in order to train a colonial institution such as the Defence, Cultural, Specialist Unit (DCSU) which have led occupying forces into places such as Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. In pushing further to decolonise the institution, we must reject and cut ties with colonial institutions.
You are the heart of the SU. Transparency and accountability are often words banded around by Sabbatical Officers, both past and present, but I can confidently say that I will remain true to this. This year has been and is set to be extremely challenging and uncertain, and while we hope to be as committed as possible to our manifestos, our priorities are ultimately set by the needs and demands of you, the community. Ensuring that you are supported in any way possible during this time is of utmost importance, especially surrounding issues of assessments, the no-detriment policy and mitigating circumstances. I might sound biased, but we have one of the best SU staff teams in London and we will all do everything we can to help you.
I hope to meet you all soon, virtually if not possible in person yet, but please do not hesitate to reach out to myself (email@example.com) or the other Sabbs in the meantime!
Take care and stay safe. Solidarity always.