Over the past week, we have seen the world stop in its tracks after having witnessed the atrocity that was George Floyd's murder and the loss of countless other black lives due to the institutional racism and police brutality in America. Although we recognise, we have a lot of allies in the UK police force, we are aware this is sadly not the case everywhere and there have been cases of police brutality in America, the UK and across the globe.
Silence is complicity and we refuse to be an organisation meant to represent and support our students without ensuring you are surrounded by allies and activists at DSU. DSU stands in complete solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and we acknowledge our platform as a way to reach out to the wider community and urge everyone to educate yourselves on how we all do our part in ensuring this never happens again.
On Friday 5 June, De Montfort University (DMU) released an open letter to all staff and students outlining how they plan to make change and the steps they will take to be truly anti-racist. To see the full statement, please click here.
As your students’ union, we wanted to follow this statement and assure you that DSU will be holding the university to account on the points raised in this statement. We will also work with colleagues at DMU and the Decolonising DMU team to ensure all our members are represented and change is made.
Diya Rattanpal, your Equality and Diversity Executive said:
“We need to remind ourselves that this is absolutely not a BAME issue. This is an issue regarding the constant injustices targeted towards the black community. Especially when other people of colour are being regarded as ‘model minorities’ in this time of unrest, as a way to pit us against each other, in the hope of us forgetting who the true enemy is – the people in power. But as well as that, we have to accept that colourism is a rampant issue within some of these communities, and there has to be a lot of work done to not only unlearn this, but also re-educate ourselves in becoming anti-racist.
I want to personally reiterate my thoughts that I expressed to our African Caribbean Society in saying that my duty as your Equality and Diversity Executive is to represent you. It is my job to ensure that I represent your thoughts, that I amplify your ideas, and share your anger amongst many other things. As I write this, I want you to know that I too, was sat on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the university would say when this open letter finally came out. It is our job as a student body to hold the university to account when they have failed to act in the correct manner, but also to support and guide them when they’ve acknowledged that they need to act better and do better.
However, we too need to be open and honest to say that as an organisation we also have work to do. Therefore, DSU are also putting a mirror up and examining our own behaviours. We currently have no black voices or representation on our Trustee Board and it is important that we strive to change that. We currently have a vacancy for a Student Trustee on our Trustee Board and I urge you to apply.”
You can find out more about becoming a Student Trustee here.
We want to see more black students help make change and tackle current issues. By becoming a Course Rep or member of the Student Council, you can also do this and help to hold your Executive Officer team to account. Although our elections have closed for the year, we will be running bye-elections in the coming months for the positions that haven’t been filled. Get in touch with our Voice team at Voice@dmu.ac.uk to find out how you can have your voice heard at the highest levels and make a change.
DSU are committed to doing more. We will do better in our training to student groups regarding racial bias and inclusivity, we’ll ensure that we get people talking about racial micro-aggressions and educate ourselves and others. But in the meantime, we also want you to be actively involved, and hold your Executive Officers to account if you feel that we need to push further at this stage.
If you need support during this time, please remember, DSU is here for you. You can contact our Advice team at firstname.lastname@example.org or the DMU support services.
Please see below for online services available digitally for Black students to contact for support, reporting and advice:
If you would like to talk, the DSU Community on our Facebook page, is an open and safe space for everyone. Please share your thoughts, support and use this space to encourage discussion and education.
We will continue to update this page with more links and advice and will be sharing resources on social media.
There is absolutely no place for racism or inappropriate behaviour within DSU.