Welcome to our first Be Better, Do Better update of 2021! As we been on away over the holidays, we thought this would be a good opportunity to respond to your initial feedback and suggestions for improvement.
1. "The Student Life Page hasn't been monitored closely enough"
In the past, we haven't always monitored the student life page on Facebook closely enough to ensure that any racist posts or comments made by students were locked or removed. This academic year, we are closely monitoring our Facebook group to stop this issue from reoccurringg, and we also encourage students to flag inappropriate comments so that an administrator can remove them as quickly as possible. In the unlikely event we haven't seen a reported comment in time, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. "You conflated BAME and Black in your social media posts last year..."
In the past our marketing and comms have confused the terms BAME and Black, and for this we are truly sorry. Staff have undergone awareness training to rectify this and posts are now checked more thoroughly before being published.
3. "Be More Transparent!"
Thank you for your feedback. We are trying our best to be as transparent as possible by posting monthly updates on our progress, so that students and staff can hold us accountable and so that we can show we're not all talk with no action. We have a webpage where we have posted all our aims and updates here: https://keelesu.com/yourunion/campaigns/ongoing/bebetterdobetter/
4. "Are you implementing training for staff or introducing equitable hiring practices within the SU?"
All Union staff have undergone equality and diversity training this month. Officers have also been trained on anti-racism specifically. We are also working with the University to develop an anti-racist e-learning module for students and staff, which will be accessible to staff in the SU. In terms of hiring practices, we have just recently begun researching diversity recruitment policies that we can implement to recruit greater numbers of BAME staff within the SU. We will share our progress on this over the next months.
5. "Do you have any metrics to measure the success of this campaign in 12 months time?"
We can measure student engagement or whether diversity recruitment policies have been successful, but it is very difficult to monitor or measure anti-racism, particularly at the moment as our activities are limited to an online space. We are planning to ask students for feedback regularly to gauge how successful they think the campaign is. We will also use the University's data regarding access and attainment to measure our effect on the University itself.
6. "Can you publish the University's diversity datasets?"
We have some datasets available and we are pushing the University to publish more data. The University's Transparency Return in 2019, which looks at student access and attainment shows that 85% of white applicants are given offers versus 70% of BAME applicants. In regards to attainment, 81% of white students achieved a 2:1 degree or above, compared to 73% of BAME students. Find the data here.
The awarding gap between White and BAME students has been trending downwards at Keele for years. In 2018/19 there was a slight increase in the black and white awarding gap to just over 10%, but in 2019/20 the awarding gap shrank to 0%. Yes, you read that right, 0%. There was no gap in the degree outcomes between black and white students for the first time since we started recording this data. Frustratingly, because of the effects that Covid-19 has had on programme delivery and the necessary recreation and modification of every module in the university, no research into why this happened has yet taken place. Even more frustratingly, because we “expected” this year to be a mixture of online and in-situ delivery, there is currently no plan to re-implement the safety net from last year, which will undoubtedly negatively impact students graduating in 2021, and thus the awarding gap will likely return. We are currency pushing to both research this on both a modular level, and also reimplement a safety net policy, though the later will largely depend on the wider stance of the NUS and other universities actions across the country.
In terms of University recruitment, Keele BAME staff representation increased to 7% in 2018/2019 (up from 6.3% in 2017/2018); those with unknown ethnicity decreased only marginally (by 0.1%). BAME representation remained low compared to the sector (13.5%) and the Keele Benchmark group 1 average (11.4%). For reference, the sector and the benchmarking group had continued to show a steady increase in BAME representation over recent years. BAME staff represented 9.3% of staff in the sector (7.6% in the benchmark group) in 2007/8; whereas representation at Keele has generally been low but has shown some variability.
7. "How will you raise awareness of casual racism and microaggressions?"
As part of our NeverOK campaign, we train students to be active bystanders and challenge casual racism and microaggressions. We are also introducing various training sessions to educate staff on the issues surrounding systemic racism.
8. "Can you do multicultural events to better celebrate diversity?"
Yes! Under regular circumstances, we host a range of multicultural events to celebrate diversity throughout the year. However, given the global crisis we have been unable to keep these going. We hope to resume normal activity as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we have hosted a range of online events for History Months. If you have any suggestions for events we can do online during this period, please contact us at email@example.com
9. "Students need information and guidance on how to normalise anti-racism"
We couldn't agree more. This is something we are working to do this year through this campaign, and through the fact that we made anti-racism a part of the SU's annual strategic plan.
We are also hoping to create a guide for students so that they are aware of how to report racism and hate-crimes, similar to the wellbeing flowchart we released back in September: https://tinyurl.com/yycvmqjl This will contain advice for day to day interactions too.
10. "You need to do more anti-racist institutional work"
We have decided to publish a separate blog in response to this feedback. This will be coming soon so please keep an eye out for this on our social media!