The National Union of Students (NUS) has been accused of being institutionally racist by Black Students’ Officer Malia Bouattia in an NUS Executive Committee meeting.
The allegations have prompted an internal review of whether there have been incidents of “direct or indirect racism” within the NUS.
Megan Dunn, President of the NUS, ordered the review after the allegations were made, stating that “any allegation of racism is a serious one” and that she is “proud to lead an organisation that takes seriously our duty to investigate this thoroughly and openly”.
“Part of our stated intention as an organisation is to challenge racism in all its forms”
Ms. Dunn continued: “Part of our stated intention as an organisation is to challenge racism in all its forms, and so this review will run alongside our existing work striving for excellence in all areas of equality and diversity”.
Malia Bouattia – representing the largest group of black students in Europe – is very active on Twitter in relation to institutional racism within higher education, and uses the hashtag #BlackinHE – standing for black in higher education.
One of her tweets claims that “institutional racism in the academy imposes glass ceilings on black lecturers – many [are] on precarious/casualised/temporary contracts”.
“We need to ensure equal opportunity – racism is wholly unacceptable”
Bouattia does not stand alone in her view of institutional racism within academic organisations, with the NUS Vice-President Sorana Vieru criticising universities’ “white, male and stale” environment in relation to academic staff.
Connor Higgs, a second year History student, claimed that “it may be the case that some people have ingrained perceptions in relation to race. This obviously needs to be combatted”.
Jessica Hickman, a second year Economics student, told Impact: “We need to ensure equal opportunity – racism is wholly unacceptable; hopefully this review will have an active and positive outcome”.
Simon Blake, the Chief Executive of NUS, outlined in a letter to staff of the organisation that the review will be investigating racism in the “culture, systems, policies, processes and structures” of the NUS.
The review is to be conducted by an external body and will be completed in January 2016.
Image: Gabor Dvornik via Flickr