Racial Liberation at SOAS!
What is the racial attainment gap?
Nationally, we know that we have a problem. Across the country it has become clear that Black and South Asian home students are considerably less likely to achieve top grades at university. It is important that we recognise that this is not a failure on the students themselves, but a symptom of systematic racism that minorities face in the UK. This has led to a call to action for universities.
You may know of the issue by another name. It has been phrased as the racial attainment, BAME attainment gap, and awarding gap among other titles. This names speak to the different ways the problem has been conceptualised.
What are we doing about it?
The work on the racial attainment gap began at SOAS in 2016 in the Students Union. After undertaking thorough research, the Degrees of Racism report was published describing in detail some of the difficult experiences of BAME students here at SOAS. This kickstarted a number of projects both in the university and the Students' Union, with the aim of drastically improving the situation.
READ THE DEGREES OF RACISM REPORT HERE!
Since then, our SOAS community has taken action. We are so proud of some of the incredible student groups and staff mobilising to try and improve this situation for our students. If you are interested, please join some of the groups and initiatives.
Black Student Support Coordinator
Following a UGM motion passed last academic year, we now have our brand new Black Student Support Coordnator, Lucia. Lucia's office is G7 and she is available to all black students for support, encouragement and advice. Not only is Lucia available for support, she also represents students on some of the boards across the school, making sure that our interests are represented even in spaces students do not reach. You can email Lucia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look out for our Black Students Caucus on January 31st!
Bridging the Gap
Bridging the Gap is a student-led programme that began in the summer of 2018. A group of student representatives learnt about the racial attainment gap in a departmental meeting and decided that something had to be done. From here the project was born and is now into their second year under new leadership. This group hosts focus groups, panel discussions and has run a group therapy session this academic year.
To conclude their first year they also wrote a report about the experiences of black students on campus, and what more the school could be doing to improve the situation.
You can contact them on facebook or by email at email@example.com.
READ THE BRIDGING THE GAP END OF YEAR REPORT.
Art and African Mind
AAM is a student society that is also coming into its second year. They put on an incredible event with Dr Patricia Rodney for SOAS SU x Black History Month 2019. They are launching a new campaign named My Reading List is Black. So look out for more of their work.
You can contact them on facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decolonising Working Group
The Decolonising Working Group is a student-staff collaborative space where members of the SOAS community can share thoughts and ideas around decolonising our working space. We are very proud to say that this group is co-chaired by our very own Co-Preisdent for Equality and Liberation! The meetings are open to all, so please come along and feel free to join the mailing list. The group has been running since 2014. If you would like to find out more please have a look at their blog.
Other Interesting Reads!
We also want to take the time to recognise some of the incredible work happening outside of SOAS to address the rampant inequality students of colour are facing. This is a national problem and we are keen to share solutions. Please follow the links below to understand more.
- NUS x UUK - Closing the Gap - We are very proud to say that our current director has been a key figure in the conversation around racial equality in higher education at a national level. In 2019, a report was published by NUS and UUK demonstrating the extent of the issue. Please have a read.
- Goldsmiths Insider-Outsider - An incredible piece of work was published recently looking specifically at the experience of black students at Goldsmiths University. The report illuminated situations that are prevelant at other univerisities also.
- BAME - Black and Asian Minority Ethnic
- BME - Black Minority Ethnic
- Awarding gap - puts the onus on universities to reconsider how they grade rather on the students and what they get