BAME society opens up about University inaction over call to action on campus racism

September 30, 2020

Image courtesy of: Aslan Ntumba 

 

The Afro-Diasporic Legal Network (ADLN) explained their interactions with the University after publishing a call to action for on campus racism.

 

The Kent-based group of BAME law students also used an Instagram Live session to explain the creation of the network, and what plans the ADLN has next.

 

After the event, co-founder Khaliq Martin said: "I believe the asks, the projects, and demands resonate so heavily with students because we are asking for the bare minimum."

 

"If we look around beyond the panels, the discussions, the race equality charter that no one asked for, what has changed structurally?"

 

The live was hosted by two of the founders of the network Leah Arthur and Khaliq Martin.

 

Over summer, the group released a comprehensive call to action, detailing a set of goals for the University to achieve to make campus more inclusive.

 

The statement was endorsed by 50+ groups of students and staff including the Kent union.

 

Leah Arthur said: “We’ve had numerous conversations with the Law School, with Kent Union, and numerous BAME societies.”

 

“The support that we see from the law school, the support that we see from the Union, is not really mirrored in the institution.”

 

She added that simply endorsing a statement isn’t the same as taking the necessary steps to ensure it can be implemented.

 

“Based off the interactions that we’ve had with the University, it kind of seems that they haven’t even fully read the demands to a certain extent.

 

“I don’t even know if they know we exist.”

 

The group has most recently been campaigning for greater accountability for campus security in their interactions with students.

 

The network made a freedom of information request to find out how campus security deals with interactions with students.

 

Khaliq Martin said: “There are broad principles that security operates under that informs your student engagement.”

 

“With these broad principles, my interaction with a security officer could very much depend on their mood, and it could depend on how they feel about me, unconscious biases what have you.”

 

 

How was the Network Founded?

 

 

The network had the goal of creating a safe space for BAME students at the University of Kent campus.

 

Khaliq, who previously studied in Canada, was surprised to see that there had been little to no administrative safe space for black students.

 

Leah Arthur, said: “We acknowledged that there aren’t the same support systems in place for Black students as there are in Canada – There’s no support system in place for Black law students currently.

 

“The Afro- Diaspora Legal Network was created to fill that void.”

 

The network was created as an informal law society to increase political education among black students due to the disparity.

 

The network also helps in finding paid opportunities among black law students.

 

 

What’s next for ADLN?

 

 

Khaliq hopes that ADLN can involve in projects that correlate with the call to action and the statement of solidarity.

 

Khaliq said: “The hope is that we can engage in projects that correlate the call to action and statement of solidarity.”

 

One of the projects ADLN plans to launch is a mentorship program within Kent Law School for black law students.

 

ADLN plans to continue the “Black Discussion” series and this year plans to indulge in topics evolving around white supremacy, colonisation, history of social movements, etc.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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