MDX Black Students' Experiences & George Floyd Anniversary

Monday 24-05-2021 - 19:38

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, that sparked protests and conversations all over the world, making the Black Lives Matter movement inescapable. It served as a sober reminder to assess our accountability as an organisation and as your Students’ Union - our accountability to you, the student community. It’s only appropriate that we reflect on our work and review what we have done following our statement in June in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.  
 
Over the summer of 2020, we decided on key areas to support Black students:
• Better understand the nuance of the Black student experience at MDX 
• Improve Black representation at the University and MDXSU  
• Strengthen the University reporting system of racist incidents 
 
MDXSU needed a better understanding of the experience of Black students to more effectively influence change at MDX. Middlesex University agreed to fund research into the Black Students’ Experiences (BSE). The research concluded last week after seven months of engaging with the Black community through surveys and focus groups. It has resulted in a report with findings on the existing BSE and recommendations* to improve the BSE at MDX and MDXSU. In brief, the BSE report strongly advocates for more imaginative solutions outside of the Higher Education Sector to improve the BSE. MDX has the opportunity to become leaders in the sector via the adoption of radical approaches that continually improve based on ongoing data and feedback. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE BLACK STUDENTS' EXPERIENCES REPORT

READ BSE REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS  

Following the findings of the Black Students’ Experiences Research, MDXSU would like to put forward the following list of recommendations to be worked on and implemented, in partnership by MDXSU and the University:

1. Develop a program to support more Black students into further study, further developing the talent pipeline.
2. Set clear benchmarked targets for diversifying leadership roles within the university with dates and monitoring processes agreed.
3. Develop and implement a specific attainment gap strategy which capitalises on the progress made due to COVID-19 and targets an elimination of the Black attainment gap by 2025.
4. Employ a group of permanent staff members that work to support underrepresented communities and provide more equitable opportunities.
5. Provide compulsory cultural awareness and anti-racist training to all University, MSXSU and externally contracted staff.
6. Create a working group to explore options and support available to offer structured improvement and development of Black students’ social capital.
7. Spotlight Black academics and students’ achievements in MDX and MDXSU communications and events throughout the year.
8. Include demographic data breakdowns in data gathering when discussing BAME communities in all University committee papers.
9. Ensure clarity on the process of reporting racism and the sanctions on University’s web pages.
10. Annually report the data of informal and formal racist cases that occur across the University.
11. Collect ethnicity data of students engaging in all support services at the point of entry.
12. Measure and report on the experience, satisfaction, and actions for further improvement for students who engage with the hardship fund, disability support, counselling and mental health, LET, and MDX Works along with timelines for completion of improvements.
13. Establish clarity of objective when decolonising taught courses and standards that all taught courses should meet, with the exception of externally certified courses by PSRBs.
14. A calendar of events with Black speakers, representatives, and alumni for the MDX community to engage in.
15. MDXSU should work with the Black Liberation group to review its structures to ensure there are more spaces and representatives for Black students.
16. MDXSU should include increasing Black representation as a key strategy goal in its upcoming governance review.
17. MDXSU should work with ACS and Black Students Liberation group to diversify their offer to the Black student community.
18. MDXSU should conduct further research into the engagement of Black students in its activities, elections, and representatives to the university.
19. MDXSU should review its welcome materials, its website and other key engagement tools to ensure Black Students are accurately represented.
20. MDXSU should work with other key campus partners such as sport and catering to review the Black students’ experiences of these services.
21. MDXSU should work with MDX to review the impact of this report in 2023 and carry out a follow up study into the Black students’ experiences.  
 
If you want to share your BSE, offer feedback on our report, or general suggestions on improving the BSE, email us at studentvoice@mdx.ac.uk  
 
MDXSU collaborated with several of our Student Groups, including the African Caribbean Society (ACS)Amnesty International SocietyMDX FMBlack Students Liberation group and Student Healthcare Academics Race Equality Diversity & Inclusivity Network (SHAREDIN), to organise a series of activity for Black History Month in October 2020. These activities aimed to educate others, build a sense of community, celebrate black excellence, and raise awareness to the oppression and racial injustice that persists in society. 
 
Our Student Media platforms have been producing informative media pieces, aimed to educate students and staff on various topics related to race and equity. Across the summer of 2020, our Student Media leaders invited students and staff to hold discussions on key topics around creating an equitable society for Black students, and held discussions on key topics around race through their Instagram Live series ‘Ignorance Is Not An Option’. As part of Black History Month, MDX FM recorded a podcast which aimed to educate people on how they can be a better ally for the Black community. 
 
MDXSU also shared weekly resources on social media by providing everyone with something to 'Read, Watch & Listen' - ensuring that we educate ourselves and others on the oppression and discrimination, as well as the success and contributions from Black people & culture. We will continue to collaborate with Student Groups and the University to champion and further improve Black Representation at MDX. 
 
MDXSU is working with Middlesex University to review and improve the systems in place to report racism. We strongly believe that being heard, supported and feeling safe on campus is essential to an outstanding learning experience. Therefore, seeing justice in the University processes and ensuring that they deliver on sanctions is essential. We will consult with the University to ensure that their processes are led by sector guidance and informed and supportive of students. 
 
We are currently working with the University Student Legal Affairs Team on reviewing the University Complaints Procedure, the Student Conduct & Discipline Rules and Care & Concern through a student lens, identifying areas for improvement, and aiming to pull together a set of recommendations to be implemented for next academic year. 
 
If you’ve been involved in any racist's incidents at MDX and would like to report it, go to MDX’s Care & Concern or email MDXSU’s advice@mdx.ac.uk  
 
 
COVID-19 pandemic has further heightened discussions on inequality as ethnic minority communities faced higher rates of infection and deaths. As we continue to celebrate, contribute, and support our Black communities we remain reflective and vigilant of our practices as an organisation and community, ensuring they remain anti-racist and honour our pledges made in June. We will continue working towards a decolonised campus at MDX to ensure that our Black students feel safe, fully supported and represented by MDXSU. 
If you’re a Black student looking for a safe space at MDX, become a member of any of the following Student Groups to network, share experiences, concerns and ideas: 
 
SHAREDIN (Student Healthcare And Race Equality Diversity Inclusion Network) 
MDX FM 
 
Click here to join or view all Student Groups at MDXSU 
Click here to read Middlesex University work towards the Black student community and acknowledgement toward the anniversary of George Floyd
 

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