President of Inclusivity and Diversity 20/21 Wins

Posted 18 June 2021
President of Inclusivity and Diversity, Evie, summarises her work for 2020-2021 in detail.
President of Inclusivity and Diversity, Evie, summarises her work for 2020-2021 in detail.

In early March 2020, I was elected as President of Inclusivity and Diversity based on my manifesto  . I’ve tried my best to carry out my manifesto, and also represent you on other projects and issues that you raised throughout the year.

Here, I am describing in detail the purpose and progress of some of the projects that I have worked on throughout the year. You can find out more about my highlights and wins through the year in a brief overview here.

 

Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity Mental Health

Research has shown that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity students face unique mental health challenges due to a number of reasons. These include racism, being gaslighted about your experiences of discrimination and feeling like friends and professionals don’t appreciate your lived experience.

  • I surveyed students about their experiences through surveys and open forums.
  • I passed a motion to lobby for these recommendations to the University. Click here for the motion
  • I presented the Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity Mental health report to the University Mental health working group on the 11th February.
  • I worked with the university's Inclusion and Campus Community team with these recommendations and how these can fit into the University Racial Inclusion Strategy.

For more info about the reasoning behind the campaign, and the results of the report, click here

 

LGBT+ Mental health

Research has consistently shown that LGBT+ people experience worse mental health and access to care than their peers.

  • I surveyed students about their experiences through surveys and open forums.
  • I passed a motion to lobby for these recommendations to the University. Click here for the motion
  • I presented the LGBT+ Mental health report to the University Mental health working group on the 11th February.
  • I worked with the University Inclusion and Campus Community team with these recommendations.

For more info about the reasoning behind the campaign, and the results of the report, click here  

 

Legal Information for disabled students

Our Disabled Students’ Representative, Sarah-Marie told us there should be more information on the university website to help disabled students know more about support and activities in the local area. We’ve worked with the university to update their support section of the university website.

 

Diversifying/ Decolonising Curriculum

  • Decolonising the curriculum involves reflecting on our assumptions about how the world is, and the legacies of Western colonialism and empire on knowledge, education and professions, especially around race.
  • I met with University throughout the year with Simeon, and asked for more information for students on what decolonisation means for them, and how it is happening on their programme of study.
  • I passed motion with Simeon (click here) to ensure that HUSU Student President team will to continue to lobby and monitor the University’s progress of decolonising the curriculum. This is also now an official part of both the President of Education and President of Inclusivity and Diversity’s role.

 

This Ends Now: Campaign Against Sexual Violence

Sexual assault and rape are never okay. It can happen to anyone, no matter gender identity, relationship status or anything else.

You told us that there is very little awareness around what consent means, and a lack of information about support for survivors of sexual assault and rape.

University Sexual Violence Group

Myself and Phoebe set up a group with the University specifically to tackle sexual violence in 2020. We have developed an action plan of what needs to be done in order to help prevent sexual violence and to better support survivors. This includes looking at the misconduct process, improving support available to survivors throughout the process and increasing awareness of support available around campus. More info on the campaign here.

Reclaim the Night

We have hosted two ‘Reclaim the night’ events, which are marches in protest against the injustice that many women do not feel safe to walk the streets in the evening alone.

Consent training

We’ve written and produced consent training, based around your feedback and what’s important to you. We’ve made it inclusive, interactive and detailed. This will be available to all students on MyJourney very soon in February.

 

Closed Captions and Image Descriptions

  • Your social mobility and class representative, Cas told us that closed captions and transcripts should be mandatory across all university and union audio content.
  • We’re making sure that all of our videos produced by the Students' Union have either closed captions or a transcripts accompanying them. I  worked with the university's inclusion team to find a way that we can make all university audio content have a good quality of closed captions and transcripts.
  • HUSU is developing a policy to make sure that all our videos can be captioned to a good quality.
  • Disabled Students’ Representative, Sarah-Marie also brought forward a similar motion regarding mandatory image descriptions.
  • Closed captions and image descriptions in the near future are expected to be a standard part of University and Union practice across all visual and audio content. Click here for the closed captions motion. Click for the Image Descriptions motion click here 

 

Black students’ awarding gap

  • An awarding gap is when students who have a particular characteristic or are from a social group are awarded fewer first class and 2:1 degrees, compared to those who don’t have this characteristic. This is often because of extra barriers or issues that these students face. For disabled students and mature students, the awarding gap between them and non-disabled and non-mature students decreased over the academic year 2019-20. This meant that these students were getting a closer number of first class and 2:1 degrees than the year before.
  • However for Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity students, particularly black students, this gap increased over the academic year 2019-20. Myself, Simeon (President of Education) and Katharine Hubbard (University researcher) have been speaking to black students about their experiences, and the specific barriers that have faced black students as a result of covid-19 and blended learning. This was taken to the University Leadership team to see what the University could do to support black students to have the best opportunities to study, and be awarded the grades they deserve.
  • These recommendations covered a number of things, including increasing library opening hours, working with HUSU on black students’ mental health among others.

 

Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity Representation

Some people have told us that you are uncomfortable with the term Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity, and the way that it groups together people with unique experiences and issues. Find out more hereIf you would like to raise ideas, suggestions around representation and terminology, the President of Inclusivity and Diversity and BAME Students’ Representative are here to support and listen to you.

Here are some of the things that we are doing in the meantime to appreciate the fact that people have diverse experiences and needs:

  • If a member of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity student community wants to raise a motion/campaign regarding issues that face their community, terminology or representation, we will wholeheartedly listen and support this student.
  • Increased optional training for those elected into position of ‘BAME students’ representative’ to account for the fact that there is a lot of pressure to represent a group with diverse needs and experiences, and a person may only have lived experience of a certain identity. Eg training in how to be an ally to Asian students, mixed heritage students, black students etc and the representative could choose to take training that they feel they would most benefit from.
  • We currently survey students at the end of election season about their experience. We will give students the opportunity to give feedback on what they think of the election process and available roles. This is an opportunity for students to give feedback on any roles, including the ‘BAME students’ representative’ who is elected by students identifying as BAME.
  • A recommendation to look into the terminology ‘BAME’  with consultancy of students in partnership with HUSU has been put to the University as part of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity mental health report.
  • HUSU will pledge to as much as possible focus on the specific issues that face specific ethnicities as much as possible in their language and writing. E.g. when talking about ‘Black Lives Matter’ specifically and the issues that the black community face, HUSU will talk about black students, rather than the ‘BAME’ community.
  • HUSU will collaborate more with student societies which represent different ethnicities and cultures, to focus on specific issues that face specific communities of students.
  • Reach out more directly to societies, as a Student President team i.e. through social media to respond to students raising potential issues, ideas, concerns relating to racial inclusion and representation.

 

Mitigating Circumstances and collective trauma

  • Collective trauma acknowledges that an event can impact you, even if it has not directly happened to yourself, friends, family member or someone you know.
  • In 2019, for example a lot of our students, even those who didn't know her, were impacted by the disappearance of a fellow student, Libby Squire. In 2020 many students particularly black students were impacted by the murder of George Floyd and in  2021 many students, particularly women were impacted by the high profile gender-based violence case of Sarah Everard. So we want to acknowledge that as a local, national and international community, there are many events that might impact your physical and emotional well-being and ability to study, even if you’re not directly connected to the event.
  • So in response to this, Katharine Hubbard and myself, a researcher at the University set up a mitigating circumstances group. For the last few months we've covered how we can take account of collective trauma in mitigating circumstances and extensions and that sort of thing.
  • There are further discussions and decisions to be made, but I have lobbied for allowing collective trauma as a valid reason for mitigating circumstances through the self-certification route.
  • I have also lobbied for transparent rolling communications explaining what collective trauma and the support and adjustments available to students who are affected.

 

Preferred names

  • I presented at the January 2020 symposium to academic staff and students about importance of language, pronouns etc
  • A number of students raised having issues changing to their chosen name on various platforms. Particularly on the name section on Microsoft teams.
  • I contacted the University Inclusion team about these various issues and was told as of September 2021, you will be able to request to have a ‘preferred name’ if you choose to use a name different to your legal name in a University setting. More info here

 

Gender Neutral Toilets

  • Students have told us that lobbying for more gender neutral toilets is important to them. In early 2020, a motion was passed by Hannah, the 2019-20 Trans Students’ Representative, to lobby for increased gender neutral toilets around campus. Click here for the motion.
  • I have received recent confirmation from the estates team in the University that they are planning to conduct a survey of campus to identify suitable locations for gender neutral toilets, and change signage where possible.
  • Whilst this a positive step, this has been something that I have been lobbying for since I started my role, and something which the estates team committed to do in June 2020, nearly a year ago. Click here for more info. (This is from June Union Executive Committee Papers where my predecessor, Abi Morris, noted that the estates team had agreed to do an assessment of campus to see what the long term plan is for increasing gender neutral toilets on campus).
  • Whilst I completely appreciate the challenges the estates team have faced during the pandemic, I am frustrated on behalf of students that they have not already started this assessment in this time, despite their commitment to do, and myself and students continuing to lobby for this.

 

Sharps Bins

  • Sharps bins are for the disposal of medical needles, for instance for students with diabetes who may need to inject regularly.
  • Ellis, President of Activities and I have worked with the University on plans for developing sharps bins on campus for students who require them. See the motion here
     

Campaign against Hate crimes and microaggressions

  • I started campaign with the University around awareness and training about hate crimes and microaggressions.
  • This also came from recommendations from both the LGBT+ and the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity mental health reports.

 

Emergency Accommodation

Emergency accommodation is short-term accommodation which students can move into when it is not safe for them to stay in their current home. (i.e. if they are experiencing domestic abuse).

Aims of campaign:

  • Increase promotion that University managed emergency accommodation is available to students.
  • Set aside a consistent number of rooms that are available, including an accessible room, and choices for single gender accommodation.

Phoebe and Cas (social mobility and class representative) met with the University across the year and suggested this proposal.

 

Accessibility Promise

I started developing a pledge which student groups, including societies and sports teams can take in order to create accessible events for their members (ie using software that enables closed captioning). This is not yet finished, but hopefully can be taken into the new academic year.

 

Final Note:

If you’ve made it this far in the blog, well done! I’ve loved representing you this year, and really hope that these campaigns and projects have made positive change for your student experience.

I wish my successor, Holly, the best in luck in this role and continuing these campaigns.

 

If you have any further comments or questions, you can get in touch at [email protected]