Posted Friday 5 June 2020
A message to students, staff and alumni from Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier:
The killing of George Floyd and subsequent shocking events in the United States have caused outrage, anger and distress around the world, bringing into sharp focus the inequality that continues to blight society.
At Kingston University we stand together as a community with our black staff, students and alumni in condemning racism against the black community, and in support of Black Lives Matter. Tackling inequality is at the heart of what we do, and we will continue to work to address disadvantage and prejudice in all its forms.
However, we know there is still much more we need to do to address the divisions and injustice in all areas of our society, including higher education, that Black Lives Matter rightly demands of us. We have heard the rallying call from our whole University community and we will take action.
This cannot be achieved unless the student and staff voice is firmly at the heart of decision making, and that we challenge ourselves to think and act differently.
The University will be working closely with the Union of Kingston Students and our wider student and staff body to ensure their voice is heard and that we continue to be guided by what our students tell us. We will listen and learn.
We will provide safe forums and support for our black students and staff to share their lived experiences and have the agency to disrupt our thinking, generate actions and change. We need to build on the relationships we have with local and wider communities to work together in tackling these issues.
Through our inclusive curriculum framework, we are working hard to ensure our students see themselves, their backgrounds and cultures reflected in the curriculum. We recognise that in some areas of the University we are farther behind on this than in others. Eliminating the BAME attainment gap remains an institutional priority and we have looked closely at unexplained gaps in attainment, which we need to take further steps to address.
Our students and our staff need to see equality, diversity and inclusion reflected at all levels of the University. We will be reviewing actions identified as part of our externally accredited Race Equality Charter, to ensure they drive the right cultural and systemic changes that will lead to stronger representation, progression and success of BAME staff and students.
We are also acutely aware of the role we have in supporting and protecting our community through the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a disproportionate impact on BAME communities. Our planning will take this into account. We will be consulting with students and staff to understand the impact Covid-19 is having on different demographic groups, allowing us to provide appropriate, targeted actions.
We fully recognise the strength of feeling among our community in relation to recent events, and the expectation that we will do better and rise to the challenge. And we will. We know that this can only happen through listening, learning and engaging with our community, and if there are real spaces for the voices of BAME staff and students to be heard.
The University is here to support all our students and staff who have been affected by these issues. We would encourage anyone experiencing any form of racial harassment to seek advice through our harassment contact scheme, which can provide confidential signposting to support and processes. Our student wellbeing team can provide guidance and support, including through listening sessions for students who need a confidential, safe space to talk. Staff can access the Employee Assistance Programme for independent and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.