Mollie Kneath (SU Education Officer) offers a brief account of her recent Lunchtime Conversation:
It is difficult to think about the events of the past few months and not become incredibly sad. This came to a peak a few days ago with Donald Trump winning the American Presidential Election, an event that left me sobbing into a sink full of washing up last night. His election has shown us that we have not come as far as we like to congratulate ourselves for; it shows that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a racist, a misogynist, a tax dodger, or have been accused of sexual assault, privilege will let you succeed; it shows us that inequality is still embedded into our society like a nasty splinter embedded in someone’s skin. But this doesn’t mean we should stop trying to get that splinter out.
One of the SU’s priority campaigns this year is ‘Liberate my Degree’ and it’s the one that I’m leading on. It’s a campaign that deals with what we learn and how we learn it, and focuses on centering the voices and narratives of communities that have historically and systematically been marginalised – specifically women, BME, disabled, and LGBTQ+ people.The goal is to make meaningful changes to what we learn, how we learn it, and improve the representation of these students in their course lists and curricula, positively changing these students’ university experience..
This campaign has started to get off the ground in the last couple of months. I have done presentations for departments, had one on one conversations with Heads of Department, but on 19th October I took part in a lunchtime conversation with TaLIC (Teaching and Learning Innovation Centre) called From Diversification to Liberation. We discussed everything from why there was a change in terminology, to the overrepresentation of liberation groups on our campus in comparison to the UK more widely, to what we could do going forward. The conversation was with academics and professional services staff from across the university, and their contributions were insightful, useful and most importantly supportive. Because of the hard work put in by our previous Education Officers and our current officer team, ‘liberating the curriculum’ had been incorporated into the Learning and Teaching Strategy.
For hundreds of years universities have been catered solely to straight, white, upper class men – it’s time our degrees adapt to our student body.