UCU Sussex stands in solidarity with Black staff and students at the University. We also stand with all those protesting against police brutality and working to dismantle white supremacy within Sussex, the UK, the USA and worldwide.
We ask you to sign this open letter addressed to the Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell, organised by Sussex PhD students. This is the first in a series of anti-racist actions we will encourage members and colleagues to take in the weeks and months ahead.
We applaud critiques of the University’s position on racial inequality made by UNISON Equalities Officer and co-leader of the BAME Staff Network, Victoria Babatunde, and fully support the statement made by Decolonise Sussex. As the USSU notes in its own strong statement, the University is not, and cannot be, a neutral space. It reproduces forms of knowledge rooted in imperialism and secures forms of structural violence across its institutions and practices, including anti-Black racism.
While the University’s Executive Management is keen to highlight Sussex’s history of anti-racism, and to issue vague words about its commitment to addressing racial injustice, we see little action. Sussex joined the Race Equality Charter in 2018, but has still not agreed its terms of reference. Indeed, our Vice Chancellor until recently seemed to believe that the US is divided more deeply by racism than the UK. It is of no surprise, then, that, Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) staff and students at Sussex have had to undertake the work of educating the University management, and they have been expected to fill in where the University has been found wanting. The University of Sussex Executive Group (UEG) has begun to acknowledge ‘uncomfortable truths’ about its previous failings and has now committed publicly to engage in ‘critical self-reflection’ and to ‘do better’. We urge them to demonstrate their commitment to anti-racism and Black Liberation by acting on the demands expressed in the open letter.
In addition to continuing the work of our branch members on ending the hostile environment and anti-racist political education, we are also in the process of formulating a list of demands for the UEG, based in consultation with our BAME members and anti-racist activist projects at Sussex, calling for a course of concrete actions to end institutional racism at Sussex. As a majority white branch, we know that we, too, need to better support the lives and work of Black staff and students, and staff and students of colour, and to step up our fight against racism both within Sussex and in Higher Education more broadly.
In the coming weeks we will be consulting with our sibling unions and student activist groups in plans to hold an open meeting dedicated to anti-racist organising at Sussex. Please attend if you can. Agenda items can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also get in touch if you have issues to raise about racism in our workplace or ideas to share about anti-racist activism the branch could support or get involved in.
In solidarity, now and always,
UCU Sussex Executive and Reps