Leeds UCU committee want to express our complete solidarity at the events that are taking place around the world. We are sorry to our Black students, colleagues and members who are having to collectively relive trauma to mobilise people to stand up to racism, in particular to anti blackness violence. It should not take these types of situations to show our support and uplift our Black students, colleagues and members. We know our solidarity means nothing if it does not translate into real action. As a committee we are committed to the following:
1. Donate £200 to local anti-racist organisation Racial Justice Network and £200 to University of Leeds alumni Melz’s project Free Black University. In our next General Meeting, we will be proposing larger amounts be donated.
2. Tackle racism and in particular anti blackness in our local branch by:
a. Taking an unlearning racism course for committee members, case workers and departmental reps.
b. Improving our internal mechanisms to report incidents of racism in our union branch.
c. Offering better support to our BIPOC members.
We know these are very small steps we can take but they will not be the last.
We have sent the following letter to the University of Leeds Vice Chancellor on 5th June 2020.
University committment to anti-racism
We hope you and your loved ones are keeping well. We are writing in our capacity as Leeds UCU committee to ask the University of Leeds to address the current socio-political climate in our community. As a university we have a duty of care to our students and staff but in particular to Black students and staff. If the university is serious in its aim to fight racism on campus and beyond, we ask that it takes real steps to action that aim beyond social media posts denouncing racism. We write to you in the spirit of cooperation and inclusion, reflecting the key values of the University, in order to make some suggestions for actions that the University of Leeds could take now:
1. Make a substantial donation to local anti-racist organisations Racial Justice Network and University of Leeds alumni Melz’s project Free Black University. (Melz started the Why is My Curriculum White Campaign in the university).
2. Become a member of the HE Race Equality Charter.
3. Release the statistics confirming the race pay gap that exists at the University of Leeds.
4. Offer specific resources to support Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) student and staff mental health.
5. Improve how students and staff can report racist incidents both online and offline.
7. Improve recruitment and appointment of more BIPOC, especially Black academic and academic-related staff. According to your own data, 30% of job applicants were BME but only 18%18% of those appointed.
We look forward to your public response on each of the suggested points in this letter.
All best wishes,
Ben Plumpton, on behalf of Leeds UCU committee
University of Leeds UCU President