Posted Friday 24 July 2020
A message to students, staff and alumni from Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier:
In my statement on 5 June I confirmed that Kingston University stands together as a community with our black staff, students and alumni in condemning racism and in support of the issues that Black Lives Matter raises in our community. We are committed to tackling inequality, and we will continue to work to address disadvantage and prejudice in all its forms.
I also stated that we have heard the rallying call from our whole University community, that 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, and at Kingston we need to play our part. We cannot address these issues as a university unless the student and staff voice is firmly at the heart of decision making.
Below are the commitments that the University has identified so far and will take forward.
Staff and student voice:
Challenging ourselves to think and act differently:
Policy and practice:
Actions so far
The senior leadership team has been listening to comments made by students, staff and alumni over the last month, and working with the Union of Kingston Students (UKS) and other groups and constituencies within the University to create the effective mechanisms needed to deliver real change. In delivering on our commitments above, there are many actions we will take in the short and medium-term, and we will develop more as we consult our community and create our plans. To begin with, we have:
We will also strengthen the implementation of anti-racism training throughout the University. Alongside existing schemes offering guidance and support, we will review the current resources for staff and students devoted to promoting anti-racism and championing equality, diversity and inclusion, including online resources. We will do more to communicate, regularly and through a range of channels, the support services that are available to staff and students. We will work harder to share information about organisations that work to combat racism and, where possible, partner with them in order to benefit from the insights they offer us.
Framework for delivery
We recognise that in order to be effective in delivering our commitments, we need to place these agendas at the heart of the University's mechanisms for decision-making and delivery. The University's strategic plan, KU22, is our framework by which we will further develop the inclusive curriculum, strengthen our performance on access and participation, and address inequality and award gaps among our diverse student body. It tasks us to deliver positive cultural change from the perspective of equality, diversity and inclusion, notably in terms of University leadership, staff engagement and performance, and staff recruitment, reward and recognition.
We are also conducting a comprehensive audit of data on our performance against our equality, diversity and inclusion commitments and testing the outcome in terms of a detailed analysis of the demands placed on us by the entirety of responses received earlier in June, which asked for more to be done about racism and inequality in the University. The strategic plan as a whole will be delivered against a range of hard measures, and progress evaluated in these terms.
We will not only listen but make sure there is genuine participation, recognition and agency in decision-making as we deliver on our commitments. We will worker harder to expose the intersections between racism and other forms of inequality and injustice that we seek to tackle, recognising the connections between racial and religious discrimination, as well as the complex interplay with questions of gender, sexual orientation and disability.
The strength of feeling among our community in relation to recent events has been made clear, and I am confident the University will deliver on your expectation of us to do better.
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 at the University to contact a member of the harassment contact scheme who can signpost confidentially to support and formal processes. Our student wellbeing team can provide guidance and support 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.