This is Russell Profitt MBE, who was the President of Goldsmiths Students’ Union from 1968-9. Not only was he the first black President of Goldsmiths SU, but also one of the UK’s first BME SU Officers.
Russell describes his leadership roles in the student movement during the sixties as a highlight of his career, showing the great political and personal impact that the role of Sabbatical Officer can have.
‘I had no idea what to expect from a university education, as no one else from my immediate family had ever got that far before...’ he said. ‘But, once there and in the swing of College life, I loved it. There, possibly for the first time in my life, I felt that who I was, and what I thought, actually mattered.’
Detailed in his ‘President’s Foreword’ within the 1968 Students Union Guide, (pictured below), Russell highlighted some of the work that he hoped to achieve as SU President – the kind of work that our Officer team still get up to today.
He wrote: ‘At a time when students are coming in for a fair amount of stick up and down the country for being ridiculous in their demands, we are able to sit down, not outside doors but at the conference table with members of staff and make constructive suggestions for action for the future.’
Following his role as SU President, Russell went on to work as a teacher and civil rights campaigner, fighting for fair political representation for women and BME communities. In 2009 he was awarded an MBE for his services to the community.
Still, Russell considers his time as President of Goldsmiths SU as a time of great personal transformation and evolution.
‘I met so many students and lecturers with backgrounds and views very different to mine, which I found at first challenging, and then later motivational. That, and an inspirational college experience, helped me to find a real voice and a direction for my life,’ he said.
If Russell’s work has inspired you, why not consider following in his footsteps and becoming a Full-Time Officer? To nominate a friend for the role, click here. To read more about the four roles and to nominate yourself, check out our website.