Tuesday 04-08-2015 - 15:08
On Tuesday 11 August the NUS Black Students’ Campaign, alongside Black members of the NUS National Executive Council, are hosting a national meeting of the Black Sabbs’ Network at NUS HQ, MacAdam House, London WC1X 8QB.
The Black Sabbs’ Network has been developed to better support Sabbatical officers of African, Asian, Arab, Caribbean and South American descent during their term in office, as a space for Black student officers from Student Unions and Associations to come together and discuss priority campaigns, share best practice and offer support and guidance to one another.
Over the years we’ve seen Black representation increase across the student movement with a record number of Black students getting elected in their Unions. The development of the Network itself has been possible due to the increased number of Black members being elected to the National Executive Council, making for a more diverse and representative NEC than ever before.
We hope that the Network will equip officers with the knowledge to organise Black students on every campus, and provide an opportunity to collectively discuss and address the unique issues that we face in our institutions.
The Black Students’ Campaign’s 2011 ‘Race for Equality’ report into the experiences of Black students in Further and Higher Education uncovered some key findings. The research found that 1/6th of Black students surveyed had experienced racism, as well as a significant minority speaking of feelings of alienation within the white-dominated monoculture of their institutions, and nearly half indicating the lack of diversity in their curricula, with their studies not reflecting their experiences or histories.
This year’s Race Matters report by the NUS into the experiences of Black staff members in SUs presented a complimentary narrative. Respondents noted a lack of diversity within their institutions, with a section relating a sense of ‘feeling invisible’ or being undervalued, as well as concerns about the implementation of race equality measures within their workplace.
The Race for Equality report has driven much of the Black Students’ Campaign’s work over the past few years; building on its recommendations we have taken on increasing Black representation as a campaign priority, and identified the role of Students’ Unions and Associations in catering for the needs of Black students and providing a site of personal and political development and change. The reports have clearly shown that aspects of the Black experience are shared by students AND staff and that addressing the issues at the heart of our institutions should be led by Black people organising together at all levels.
Over the years, through the Black Students’Campaign’s work and the tireless organising of Black students on the ground, we’ve seen Black representation rise with the number of Black student officers start to level out in proportion to the 1/5th of Black students making up the Higher Education intake.
And more importantly, with increased representation we’ve seen issues, discussion and campaigning around the Black student experience come to the fore in the student movement – from finally starting to address the ethnicity attainment gap, to raising the need for a diverse and liberated curriculum as a demand alongside free education to truly break down the barriers to Black students’ success in education.
At UCL students secured the first full-time BME Students’ Officer in the UK, at City University London through years of campaigning Black students were able to secure Muslim prayer room facilities, and vibrant Black students’ committees have developed from Birmingham to Manchester to Sheffield, drawing together and politicising Black students in grassroots activism on issues affecting Black people in the UK and abroad.
This meeting will be the first of regular Black Sabbs’ meetings over the course of the year, including regionally, and through organising locally and nationally we can strengthen and empower Black student officers to truly represent the needs of Black students and create change with the culture of our institutions.
We look forward to seeing you there and creating that change alongside you over the course of this year.
Black Sabbs Network national meeting, Tuesday 11th of August 10am-3pm, NUS HQ London
Register for free here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nus-black-sabbs-network-national-meeting-tickets-17918723384
Join the Black Sabbs’ Network Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/1600731776823140
The meeting is open to all student officers of African, Asian, Caribbean, Arab and South American descent, whether part-time or full-time