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Officer Statement | The University and Black Lives Matter

Published on 11th June 2020 at 17:57.

Today we met with the University Executive team and discussed the University's Black Lives Matter statement and the need for urgent anti-racist action going forward.

We brought with us three students who raised excellent points and shared their lived experience throughout this period and more generally as Black students at Sussex.

To summarise, this included issues around racist structures, lack of cultural competency, virtue signalling, lack of diversity amongst staff, the Sussex Awarding Gap, microaggressions towards Black/BAME students and staff in everyday life at Sussex and other incredibly pertinent and painful truths that the University needs to understand.  

We asked for the following: 

  • That the UEG (University Executive Group) enrols in the full two-day Race Equality Charter training - we went on this and it was impactful and helped us learn more about race equality and how to engage in anti-racist action.
  • More funding for the BAME Ambassador Scheme and thus a longer time commitment to the scheme (We currently only have funding for six months - as of September).
  • And for a general explanation regarding the statements released by the University.

We received commitments from the Vice Chancellor (VC) around the following issues:

  • The VC committed to making sure that all members of the University leadership team engage in Race Equality Charter training (this will include Heads of Schools and Heads of Professional services).
  • That increased funding for the BAME Ambassador scheme would be taken and seriously considered. We will wait and see on this one. However we were adamant that if the University was to continue to highlight their good practice through there being an Ambassador scheme, they would need to commit to it properly.
  • The VC also explained that he had underestimated the situation in the United States and did not realise, until too late, that the protests were just as pertinent in the UK, and apologised for the original statements, taking responsibility for them. He also reiterated his commitment to the most recent statement on Saturday 6 June.