University to be founding member of a new anti-racism network

Thu 06 May, 2021
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The University of Bedfordshire is one of 15 universities across England to agree the formation of a new network aimed at fighting racism in higher education.

The network will be the first of its kind on such a large scale and Dr Mohammad Alramahi, Principal Lecturer in Law with Bedfordshire’s Business School, was an attending delegate at the launch meeting this term.

Organised by committee members of the University of Westminster’s BME Network, the launch meeting gathered together existing pro-race equality staff networks from 13 universities across London and the universities of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, with the aim of forming an anti-racism alliance.

This new ‘network of networks’ has been provisionally titled ‘Anti-Racism Network for London Higher Education’ and will facilitate the sharing of good practice as well as the amplification of individual networks’ voices.

Dr AlramahiDr Alramahi, who is also Chair of the University of Bedfordshire’s newly established BAME Network, said: “I was really pleased to have received an invite to the inaugural HE anti-racism network planning meeting, especially given that our own BAME network has only just recently launched formally.

“Universities need to work together to identify and highlight institutional or structural racism and to put forward meaningful solutions, provide confidential, safe and supportive environments for members and to coordinate events and activities that promote inclusion and equality.

“I hope that this new alliance of networks will act as a representative body to lobby for positive change and provide both a regional and national voice on race equality issues.

“The University of Bedfordshire endeavours to be represented at all HE anti-racism network meetings by one or more officers, discussing how best to advance anti-discriminatory practices in our working and learning environments.”

This co-ordinated anti-racism strategy was discussed at the network’s launch meeting in April, with attendees also debating how to leverage support in order to enable institutional change and how best to liaise with wider stakeholders such as Advance HE and the UK Government. Other topics of discussion included the continuing need to highlight systemic racism in higher education and the usefulness – and future – of the term 'BAME'.

Professor Rebecca Bunting, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, said: “Our University is proud to be one of the founding members of this new anti-racism network for higher education. We hope this important initiative will help educate and be the starting point for real change in the eradication of racism and discriminatory actions in our sector and wider communities.”

Launch MeetingCo-chairs of the University of Westminster BME Network, Deborah Husbands and Dibyesh Anand, hosted the HE anti-racism network launch meeting. Deborah Husbands said: "We are privileged to live in an era where we are witnessing change on a global scale. This collective of university staff networks is committed to being part of that change."

Dibyesh Anand added: "For anti-racist practices to be successfully embedded in our universities, it is crucial for us to reach out to those who share commitments and work with each other. Solidarity, allyship, activism, speaking out, listening to each other, mobilising against entrenched privileges, being wary of tick-box diversity initiatives, and sharing good practices would be some of the key elements of our effort to come together."

Further information about this new 15-university network will be announced in due course.

The launch of this HE anti-racism network launch comes just a couple of months after the formation of the University of Bedfordshire’s BAME Staff Network. Its launch event in March featured an address from the Vice Chancellor, Professor Rebecca Bunting, and a guest panel including Maria Lovell (Mayor of Luton), Dr Nazia Khanum (Chair of the United Nations Association – Luton Branch and Director, Equality in Diversity CIC/International) and Sanchia Alasia (Head of Equality Diversity and Inclusion, London South Bank University).

For further information about the University of Bedfordshire BAME Staff Network, visit: www.beds.ac.uk/bamestaff

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