The University of Westminster's BME Network hosted a landmark meeting of pro-race equality staff networks across Greater London universities earlier this week aimed at forming an alliance. The meeting was organised by Network committee members Aasiya Lodhi and Deneice McIntosh.
Members from fifteen different universities took part in the event - the first of its kind on such a large scale and initiated by the Westminster BME Network - to discuss joining forces to create a 'network of networks' for anti-racist action and co-ordinated strategy in the HE sector.
Delegates joined from a host of universities including Bedfordshire, City, Goldsmiths, Greenwich, Hertfordshire, King's, Kingston, London Met, LSBU, Middlesex, St George's, UCL, Queen Mary and UEL.
In a wide-ranging and dynamic discussion, attendees debated the positive impact of coming together as an alliance, including leveraging support to enable institutional change and liaising with wider stakeholders such as Advance HE and the government. Other topics of discussion included the continuing need to highlight systemic racism in HE and the usefulness (or otherwise) of the term 'BAME'.
The various participants agreed on working together and discussed the formation of a network of networks to explore shared and collective concerns. The new provisionally titled 'Anti-Racism Network for London Higher Education', which is a work in progress, will facilitate sharing of good practice and amplify collective voices of various race equality related networks based in different institutions in and around London.
The BME Network co-chairs, Deborah Husbands and Dibyesh Anand, who chaired the meeting, thought the event foregrounded an important collaboration to help establish anti-racist practice in universities.
Deborah Husbands said: "We are privileged to live in an era where we are witnessing change on a global scale. This collective of university 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 tickbox diversity initiatives, and sharing good practices would be some of the key elements of our effort to come together."