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February 2021 Update

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1. Equality, Diversity And Inclusion (EDI) Training

In January, staff at the SU completed Equality, Diversion and Inclusion (EDI) training - this included training around racism. As part of the training, participants were encouraged to give feedback on their experience of the training, and what could be improved. As part of this, the officers gave honest feedback on the training and how the anti-racism parts of the training could be strengthened. Over the next few weeks, each department will have guided discussions with our HR facilitator to discuss individual topics from the training. 

2. Safety Net Policy

As many of you will know, we managed to get all students a new Safety Net policy for 2020/21! More information on how we did this can be found here.

We’ve included this in our BBDB update because last year Keele’s Safety Net had a significant impact on improving (and in the case of the black and white awarding gap, completely eradicating) the awarding gap. 

Whilst we’re still waiting to hear back from the university on the other contributing factors, current speculation also suggests that the more effective implementation of bling marking, the removal of in-situ examinations and changes to the part time employment landscape could all be contributing factors.

3. BAME Awarding Gap Data

During a recent Senate meeting, the University informed us that analysis into the improvement of the BAME attainment gap had taken place. As we have not seen evidence of this analysis, we are pushing the University to publish this data. We maintain that it is crucial that an in-depth analysis of the awarding gap takes place before students are awarded degrees for 2020/21. It is important that the University understand all the contributing factors to last year's improvement, so that the awarding gap can continue to narrow.

4. Green Impact & Liberation 

In December, students mandated the SU to identify and label the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all our events, campaigns and activities. Since then, we have been looking at ways we can implement the SDGs into the SU's day-to-day workings.

As part of this work, we want to ensure that our sustainability work meets the needs of liberation groups. There is a concern that many sustainability campaigns and initiatives do not meet the needs of liberation groups, and often fail to address interlinking issues such as colonialism. In order to ensure that our sustainability work is inclusive, we are meeting with our part-time officers who identify with a liberation group to make sure that the issues liberation groups face are continually at the forefront of our sustainability work. 

5. Elections & #BeTheBoss 

Of the 55 full-time officers who have been elected since 2010, only 13 elected officers have identified as BAME. As a response to this, we created our #BetheBoss campaign which encourages Students of Colour to run in the SU’s annual elections.

We recognise that the burden of work combating racism and supporting BAME students at Keele overwhelmingly falls on students of colour themselves, whether that be student activists pushing their faculties to decolonise or hosting anti-racist events beyond Black History Month. Pushing the institution's anti-racist agenda is not their responsibility. However, having more students of colour elected into full-time officer positions, though not a solution in itself, would go a long way in giving students the assistance and representation they need at the university level. Race pervades so many aspects of reform needed at the university level from student access and attainment to welfare issues, and elected officers are given a crucial opportunity to shine a spotlight on areas that have been previously neglected. 

6. Veganuary Mythbuster 

Every other week we debunk myths around race. In January, we incorporated our Veganuary campaign in one of our bi-weekly Be Better, Do Better mythbuster posts. The post addressed the problems with veganism in the black community and dispelled beliefs that veganism is only for middle aged women in yoga pants.

7. Decolonise The Curriculum Workshop

The university has recently been hosting ‘Decolonise the Curriculum’ workshops with lecturers from all subjects. Having attended and given feedback on some of these workshops, we felt that the way the sessions and discussions were incredibly useful and thought-provoking. This was the case even in STEM subjects, where there tends to be more confusion about how decolonising the curriculum is applicable. We as a Students’ Union are really happy to see so many members of staff get involved in this and be open to decolonising their subject areas. A big thank you goes out to the University’s Race Equality Officer, Hinna Sheikh, for organising and hosting these sessions.

8. #NeverOK Hate-Crime Survey And New Reporting Tool 

In January 2019, as part of the #NeverOK campaign, Keele University and KeeleSU partnered with one of the UK's leading hate-crime reporting services, Stop Hate UK. In the two years since this reporting tool was made available to Keele students, only 1 student made a report to the service. While on the surface this may seem positive, research suggests that victims of hate-crime are unlikely to report their experiences. We know that the prevalence of hate-crime at Keele is likely higher than the number of reported incidents. 

Considering this, all Keele University students were invited to complete an anonymous survey into their experiences of hate-crime and hate-crime reporting. This survey has helped us better understand why students did not report to Stop Hate UK, and has informed changes to hate-crime reporting at Keele. Now that our partnership with Stop Hate UK has come to an end, the University is in the process of developing a bespoke reporting tool for both staff and students to report hate crime, microaggressions, and discrimination. 

9. EDI Induction Module 

As part of students' induction to University, the SU is working with the University’s Race Equality Officer to create an introductory EDI training module. We are also working in partnership to develop longer modules around hate-crime and race equality. These will be available to all students on the KLE. 

10. LGBT+ History Month Events

For LGBT+ History Month this year, we sought out two events that focus on sexuality and race. Check them out here.

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