Welfare & Diversity Officer Blog

It's ya girl, here for all your (Union-related) needs. Graduated in Politics, previously Palestine Twinning Officer and Palestine Society President for 2 years, I'm excited to be your current Welfare & Diversity Officer. I'll be working on various campaigns, from contextualising Goldsmiths within the local communities, to liberating your degree. Feel free to stop me around campus or drop me a message at any time! 

'Liberate My Degree' Bookmark Project

A big chunk of my second year was spent bursting into the SU Office to rant to the Education Officer at the time, Sarah, about how much I (to put it lightly) didn’t like my course. There were a few reasons why I chose Goldsmiths, and one of them was because I was told it would be “radically different” to any other London University. But when I finally settled into university life, I quickly discovered that for 3 out of 4 modules, the curriculum would be just as white and white-washed as my school experience and any other politics degree I saw on UCAS. It was pale, male and stale - and I couldn’t bear it.

A few years ago, movements began to pop up around the UK and the world in response to the increasing frustrations that BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) students were expressing. Cape Town University in South Africa started its ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaign, which quickly catapulted into something so much greater than physically taking down statues of representatives of a deeply racist, colonial regime. After UCL began its ‘Why Is My Curriculum White’ campaign, Goldsmiths SU started our very own in 2014/2015. The national campaign has now been reworked and renamed ‘Liberate My Degree’.

What is Liberation?

Liberation is the act of “working to challenge and reverse the effects of structural oppression in society which manifest themselves in higher education in numerous ways” (NUS).

Why is it relevant?

Though figures vary around the country, average stats have been released throughout the past few years, highlighting the way in which BME students have been falling behind in Higher Education due to institutional barriers:

  • The ‘Race for Equality’ Report (NUS, 2011) found that 42% of BME students said the curriculum did not reflect issues of diversity, equality and discrimination;

  • 33% of BME students they did not feel able to bring their perspectives as BME students into lectures, seminars and tutorials;
  • In 2013, the gap between the proportion of white students and BME students graduating with a first or a 2:1 degree was 16% (ECU, 2014).

What is Liberate My Degree?

In essence, Liberate My Degree is a campaign by Goldsmiths SU to place the most historically-marginalised BME voices at the centre of our curricula - from our reading lists, to those who teach them.

Bookmarks Project

As part of the campaign, we're launching a bookmark project this week. In an effort to take matters into our own hands and centre marginalised perspective and voices, we will be leaving boxes of bookmarks in different spaces around the library. The Liberate My Degree campaign encourages you to pick up a bookmark, recommend a text by a BME writer, place it in your current reading and put it back on the shelf for another student to find and learn from.

Anyone can take part in Liberate My Degree, get involved today and share the work of a writer that you love, tell your friends, spread the word and look forward to stumbling upon a new recommendation amongst your usual essay writing or seminar preparation!

Comments

Esther McManus
4:47pm on 12 Feb 17 This is a valuable idea - is there a way that the bookmark recommendations can be logged somewhere online, so that everyone can access a database of recommend works by BME writers in the library (perhaps with additional comments about which course might find it especially relevant, why it has been recommended)? Part of the problem I experience is that course reading lists are overwhelmingly white/male - raising the visibility of texts by BME writers, and suggesting their work as alternatives to the current reading lists, could be a nice way to make these recommendations more accessible. Perhaps students can also fill in recommendation forms online?
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