As well as the fight against a global pandemic the last three weeks have been dominated by the horrific killing of George Floyd in America, and the outpouring of anger at the continued scourge of racial injustice across society. The rage at racially-motivated brutality has found an extraordinary resonance across the world, bringing a sharp focus on structural and institutional racism and their corrosive effect in driving economic, social and health inequalities. At the same time, we are seeing clear evidence of the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
For many of our Black students and staff, as, indeed, for many other BAME members of our community, this is a hugely painful and personal time. I want to make it absolutely clear that I stand with you and against racism in all its forms. I realise the overriding importance and urgency of tackling all forms of racism and racial injustice that remains in our global society.
Many of our staff and students have written to me about their feelings and anger and their support for the core values of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, demonstrating a firm stand against racism. We can all find out more about the movement and how we can educate ourselves and others, as well as access information on self-care and support for Black communities here.
Queen Mary’s commitment to being inclusive is at the heart of our mission and strategy. We take great, and justified, pride in the diversity of our student body, with a significant proportion of our students identifying as BAME. And yet we are fully aware that this does not mean we are immune to systemic racism: across the Higher Education sector, the data make it clear that Black and other ethnic minority students and staff continue to experience persistent inequalities, both in outcomes and experience. At Queen Mary we are all committed to taking action to ensure that this is not the case.
I am under no illusion about the scale of the challenge before us. We must all review, evaluate and continually challenge our culture and behaviours, as well as our systems and processes to identify any institutional and historical factors that may contribute to inequality at Queen Mary. We need to be more open about, and communicate better, the work that has already taken place to tackle inequality in staff recruitment, pay and promotion and reducing the BAME attainment gap. We also must increase our pace with this work, and be more ambitious and brave in our thinking and approach.
We must all also talk much more openly and honestly about race at Queen Mary, and listen to and learn from individual lived experiences. It will not be easy, particularly at a time when we are facing serious institutional issues as a result of Covid-19. But however difficult it may be, we are determined to identify and invest in concrete, effective actions to promote racial justice for all staff and students in our community, and to stand against racism and all forms of discrimination.
Statement from Professor Colin Bailey, President and Principal, on behalf of the Queen Mary University of London Senior Executive Team
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