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Professor Jennings’ speech at the Race Equity Town Hall – 25 October, 2021

15 October 2021

3 mins

Thank you for asking me to say a few words today.

I would like to start by thanking those staff who I know have been working so hard to get Loughborough to where it is today. Especially Angela, Veronica, James, Upul, Tara, Emma, and many others from the BAME Staff Network.

It is never easy to make change. Delivering our ambitions for race equity will be no exception.
When I learned about the work our staff have been leading on, it made me think of a quote from the cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

The work of this group has started to change Loughborough. Including being instrumental in the creation of the EDI subcommittee, ensuring our committees are more inclusive and overseeing the implementation of our Race-based stress compassionate leave policy.

But we are no longer in a place where it is about small group of people. It is now our collective responsibility to make sure this change happens.

I want to take a moment to make it clear what I mean by that.

Some colleagues, including a number that I see here today, have been working on making change for many years. Not just since the advent of things like the Race Equality Charter.

It is now time for all of us, especially white colleagues, to take an active role in making change.

For too many years, white people have benefitted from our privilege. So it is not only the job of our Black and Minority Ethnic colleagues to make the change.

We, as white colleagues, need to accept our part in this and work hard to make change happen.

In order to do this, we need to be clear on our current situation. Loughborough University has a problem with racism.

However well-intentioned and enacted, our processes produce racist outcomes. Fewer Black, Asian and other minority ethnic group students are awarded good honours degrees. There is a statistically significant gap of approximately 12 percentage points. Black students are twice as likely to drop out as white students. We see racist incidents. We have racist members in our community.

The Race Equality Charter is part of our journey to address this.

But our end point is to create an anti-racist Loughborough:

  • That is a university that doesn’t bystand. When racism occurs, we are not passive, we take action.
  • A university that can catalyse change beyond our boundaries, through our students, our research, and our community engagement.

It’s a long journey. It involves open, honest conversations. It involves dismantling unfair and racist structures and processes wherever we find them. It involves challenging racist behaviour.

I am committed to leading this work as Vice-Chancellor. And I will work alongside our staff and students to do this work.

This is a genuine opportunity for us to change the University for the better.

To change the sector.

To make a national statement on what a truly inclusive, anti-racist organisation can achieve.

More information about the Race Equity Town Hall, including a video of the event, can be found on the University’s EDI website.

Vice-Chancellor's Communications

Opinions and comment from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Jennings

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