Tomorrow morning hundreds of King’s students are set to walk out of their lectures in protest of the lack of action being taken to tackle the BME attainment gap within the college.
According to organisers of the ‘Black and Brown-Shut it Down!’ Student Walkout, reports show that, while nationally, BME students are 16.1% less likely to attain a 2:1 or a first in their degree, at King’s the attainment gap is 19%. At UCL this figure is 2.8 %, although these figures have been disputed over the last week.
I ask students why they will join the walkout tomorrow:
Maria Dadabhoy and Travis Alabanza: Our demand tomorrow will be for more immediate and radical action to take place in order to tackle these issues
We organised this walkout after we became increasingly frustrated with the responses we received from academic staff at the ‘Why is my curriculum White’ panel event. When pressed about tangible changes that are being done at KCL to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum and close the attainment gap, their answers suggested that the college is not responding as urgently as we’d like.
It became clear that all these initiatives, diversity plans and top down effects that we have been trying to work towards is not adequate for the people that this affects : People of Colour were not FEELING these changes.
We feel that the needs of black and brown students at KCL are not the priorities of the college. The shocking statistics of BME students being more likely to achieve a 2:2 than their white counterparts needs to be addressed with urgency. Our demand tomorrow will be for more immediate and radical action to take place in order to tackle these issues.
Organisers of the ‘Black and Brown-Shut it Down!’ Student Walkout
Sophia Violaris: As a white student I will be walking out in solidarity with students of colour; and you should too
I will be walking out tomorrow because I refuse to be a part of a system where my peers and friends, those who are just as capable as anyone else, are 19% more likely to get a lower grade simply because of their race.
As a white student I will be walking out in solidarity with students of colour; and you should too. PoC support is invaluable, but if you are white and reading this your support is needed: this is also your issue.
The voices of PoC should be enough but unfortunately it is all too easy for the university to dismiss a PoC only campaign. Sadly, white voices can be seen to legitimise the protest, add to numbers and make it harder for the establishment to dismiss the issue at hand.
This is YOUR University and to stay silent on an issue as important as this is to implicitly condone the institutional racism of a system that has failed thousands of students and continues to fail thousands more.
Sophia Violaris, second year King’s Medical Student
Ben Hunt: King’s has not been clear enough on what solutions can be urgently offered to solve these issues
Politically, it is hugely important for me to support oppressed and marginalised groups in any way that I can when they organise events such as these.
Institutions within this country must accept their complicit and explicit acceptance of racism and the legacies of colonialism where our students of colour cannot perform as well as their white counterparts only for being people of colour.
King’s institutionally has not been clear enough on what solutions can be urgently offered to solve these issues, as well as changes to the curriculum. Understandably, our students of colour are angry about it.
We have been lazy academically to allow white perspectives to dominate over others and allow oppressions to fester in what we learn and the environment we’re in. That is why I am in solidarity with KEMA and their walkout.
Ben Hunt, VP Education (Arts & Sciences) 2015/16
If you want to find out more, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/989432367788681/