As always, we are concerned with how we build solidarity for issues facing African and African descended staff and students without eliding the particular needs of different peoples and groups within and outside that bracket.

The choice of this theme was particularly prompted by the aftermath and unfulfillment of the lofty promises of 2020, in the wake of the uprisings that erupted in response to the killing of George Floyd, as well as the backlash that followed. Neither the outpouring of superficial institutional commitments to change and especially entrenched refusals to change reckoned with the continuing trauma and exhaustion experienced by Black people, particularly in the case of 2020 where African descended people were constantly invited to become confessionals and good-works-alibis for both positions. The failure to engage with the intractability of anti-blackness as a longstanding and evolving global organising principle presents complex problems to African descended people in Higher education institutions across the world.

For example, the differential experiences of African descended students fleeing the invasion of Ukraine has been remarked upon. In the aftermath, many African students are stranded or are facing the loss of tens of thousands of pounds for degrees that cannot be continued. In response Korrine Sky has called for a support package and scholarships for African and African-descended students whose studies have been disrupted. We will send a link to that call to participants after this meeting and appreciate if you could support and promote.

Here in the UK, the curriculum, the staff composition, the student body and conditions in higher education institutions present a complex set of barriers to African and African descended people in different ways. Furthermore, a recently introduced post study work visa illustrates how university rankings as a tool of border management.

It is for these reasons and many more that we convene this discussion with our panellists.

Bios

Lara Lalemi

CEO of Creative Tuition Collective and Aerosol Chemistry PhD student at the University of Bristol.

Lauren Hutfield

Has a first-class degree in politics and international relations at the university of Bristol. She is currently a masters student studying development and security. Created and led the decolonising SPAIS group, a volunteer group working to initiate and sustain the process of decolonisation within the sociology, politics, and international studies school, as well as across universities.

Robiu Salisu

The student inclusion officer responsible for improving Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) Undergraduate Students’ experiences at the University of Bristol. Robiu provides institutional guidance and manages the Be More Empowered for Success programme, which employs student advocates to co-create events and belonging projects. Awarded the University of Bristol Staff Member of the Year award for all of his work in supporting BAME students at the University at the 2019 Bristol Students’ Union Award.

Ijeoma Egbarin

An Intercalating Medic (MBChB) currently studying a Masters in Law (LLM) in Health, Law and Society at the University of Bristol. Chair Bristol SU Black Students Network 2020/21.

Zawadi Mwambeyu

Charity Zawadi Mwambeyu is a third year Civil Engineering MEng student. She is a Beacon University Leadership and Bristol Think Big Scholar and won the Women in Property National Student Awards 2021. She has served two years as a course representative and is an attendee of the Black Engineers’ Society ‘Dean’s Lunch’ to consult on recruitment and retainment of African students.

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio

Hillary is NUS Vice President for Higher Education. She was previously the Undergraduate Education Officer and Chair of the Widening Participation Network at the University of Bristol Students’ Union.

Questions we will be addressing

  • What are the issues facing African and African descended staff and students at the University of Bristol?
  • How do we build solidarity for issues facing African and African descended staff and students?
  • What do we want to see from the university?
  • What can we put into effect immediately?

 

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