Black Lives Matter - Open Letter

Dear Professor Bailey & Sheila Gupta,

We, representatives of the student body, are collectively writing to give you some feedback that we had on your recent public statement; “Statement reiterating our commitment to inclusion following the death of George Floyd”. To begin, there is a general feeling from the statement that the university appears to distance itself from the Black Lives Matter movement and not explicitly support it. This has led us to feel disappointed and let down by the institution that we are supposed to trust.

One of the first issues that we have identified with your statement is that it was included within your weekly student email, that was titled “Celebrating Pride Month, thinking about summer work experience programmes, thank you to our volunteers”. As it is stated in the first word of the title, Pride Month is about a celebration of the LGBT+ culture. The brutal murder of George Floyd by police officers on the 25th of May and the subsequent protests across the globe for justice is not a celebration and has no relevance. Police brutality is never something to be celebrated. The statement feels rather out of place and buried amongst other matters. The issue of racism is not something to be buried. It needs to be addressed. Therefore, it deserved its own communication to us from our Principal. It needed to be a priority. 

Upon first glance, the statement appears rushed, both due to the topics that you have covered and also the length of it. We, the students, wanted the university to acknowledge the systemic and institutional racism that caused Floyd’s death. This is not something that arises out of the blue; systemic and institutional racism starts from the very moment a black student enters primary school. It feels as though there is an attempt to completely change the narrative around this situation and make it seem like this problem is not one that is present within Queen Mary, University of London. It seems to show a lack of respect to the experiences of your own black students who study here. Experiences of discrimination, unfair treatment, feeling out of place amongst many others, which have been highlighted by the student body for years, yet ignored.

To emphasise, yet again, the statement includes no mention of police brutality. Outside of this university, black students are still seen as black people and to the police, they’re seen as a threat. To act like this isn’t a reality for our black students does a great injustice. Within the whole statement, the black community is not mentioned once, even though they are at the heart of the fight for justice and the Black Lives Matters movement. The focus is supposed to be on black lives. Yet that was not the case here. 

You have provided no resources within your statement to students, no way of allowing the students to get involved and participate in the movement. There are no links to donations for any of the victims’ families. Without any proactiveness to support the movement, it's just empty words. With this, it brings the feeling that you’re not dedicated to bringing about any actual change. The lack of student support offered in the statement should also be noted; there is nothing practical offered to us, the students, which emphasises how Queen Mary is willing to support us, right now. That begs the question, is the institution willing to actually support the students, through practical means? This short, first paragraph of your statement concludes speaking about everything that is currently going on in the world and you go straight on to talk about Queen Mary. 

The next part of the statement focuses on inclusion and whilst we understand the sentiments behind this, this isn’t about everyone. This is about black people. As we’ve previously mentioned you’ve included no resources within this statement or even any mention of donations to the various charities and fundraisers. You appear to have done nothing about this inclusion you speak of for your own students. Lead by example is a common sentiment - we want to see you actively support the movement, actively support the students during this time. We want sincere and proactive solidarity, not empty words.

Furthermore, using BAME when referring to this scenario shows a misunderstanding of what is happening. Putting the focus on the BAME network is doing more harm than good for the black community during this time. This incident and all those that came before it, have affected the black community horrifically and to see calls for a BAME network in a statement that was supposed to address solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, feels ill-judged. 

You mention that the BAME network will be championed by Sheila Gupta, Vice-Principal for People, Culture & Inclusion, but we feel that neither of you have done anything for the black community here at Queen Mary. We have been relentlessly trying to contact you for a few days prior to your release of this statement, we were met with silence, we heard nothing from you. It is rather difficult to put our trust in people when they have let us down. We feel let down by the institution. Your statement reads to the black community that something is happening to them and you’re giving them a BAME network as a solution, so that they might be able to get something out of. It makes them feel as though their lives do not matter to you - the Executive team. These students have to come back onto your campuses again to finish their degrees, however, they will come back feeling betrayed by an institution they are supposed to trust. Queen Mary University of London should stand alongside the black community, not brush the issues aside.

We were also surprised that we were not addressed directly by our Principal, especially since he has contacted us so frequently over the last few weeks regarding the Coronavirus pandemic. It does not feel like this has come from the Principal himself, although it is signed by him. Yet when the Principal does not respond to issues that affect us, like the Black Lives Matter movement, it feels like he has committed himself to an institution that shows they don’t care about our experiences. We have tried to contact the Principal about this matter directly, and others similar, many times and as mentioned previously, he does not respond to his students or their concerns. We have even sent a list of resources of donation funds and petitions that they could supply to students to encourage them to fight racism in all forms and be proactive about this issue. It feels like this statement has been released as an active choice, rather than it being an ill-judged mistake. 

We hope the institution can take the Black Lives Matter movement seriously and show undivided solidarity, for the sake of its black students and staff. We deserve an institution that supports us and stands by us, not one that hides and deflects real issues that affect real students

Click here to sign the open letter - Students
Click here to sign the open letter - Alumni/Staff

Sincerely,

QM African and Caribbean Society

BL African and Caribbean Society

QM North African Society

QM Somali Society

BL Indian Society

Decolonise QMUL Society

QM Pan-African Soc

QM First Love Society

QM Music Society 

BL Music Society

QM LGBT+ Society

BL LGBT+ Society

BL Tamil Society

BL Pakistani Society

QMBL Bangladesh Society

Queen Mary Theatre Company

Circadian Magazine

BL Dental Society

BL Orthopaedic Society

BL GP Society

BL CLASS

BL MESS

BL Paediatrics Society

BL ENT

BLAICS

BL Urology Society

BL Cardiology Society

BL Endocrinology Society

BL Palliative Care Society

BL Women in Healthcare Society

BL Music Society

QM Comedy Society

QM Engage Society

BL Drama Society

BL ArguDent

Queen Mary Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Services Society

Open Minds

Teddy Bear Hospital

Project Play

SKIP Barts

BL Sex Ed

BL Tennis

BL Women's Football

BL Cricket 

QM Hockey

QM Netball

BL Squash

BL Women’s Hockey

BL Men's Football

BL Water Polo

Barts and the London Boat Club

BL Running

BL Netball

QM Football

QM Women's Football

QM Men's Basketball

QM Climbing

QM Lacrosse

BL Men’s Hockey

QMBL Swimming

QM Squash

QM Boat Club

QMBL Women's Basketball

BL Golf

BL Lacrosse

BL Friends of MSF 

BL Sailing

BL Prehospital and Emergency Medicine Society 

BL Respiratory Society 

BL Sexual and Reproductive Health Society

Students for Global Health Barts

BL PsychSoc 

BL Debating and Ethics 

BL O&G society

BL Dance Society 

BL Allied Courses Society 

StreetDoctors East London 

BL ISOC

The Friendly Society

BL Basketball 

BL Gastroenterology Society

Sustain @ BL

Green Mary 

QM Afghan Society

 

Sami Rasooli - Queen Mary Black & Minority Ethnic Representative 

Thaarabi Tharmapathy - Barts and The London Black & Minority Ethnic Representative

Ahmed Mahbub - QMSU President 18/19, VP Welfare 17/18

Supported by Shamima Akter, VP Welfare 19/20 and incoming President 20/21, on behalf of the current and incoming Executive Officers teams.

 

Signatures:

Debbyka Allan 

Aishaa Hussein

Hanna Mohamed

Hebah Mirza 

Hali Ahmed:

Fatima Mondeh:

Yesmine Naili-Douaouda:

Reem Abdullah:

Nour Kennou:

Lorraina Gabriel- Abraham:

Abyan Sharmarke:

Najax Aadan Ali:

Najat Yusuf

Jamila Ali

Deqa Elmi

Jomaan Sherlala

Maya Chukujama

Giulia Olayemi 

Yasmin Kerrik

Yunus Hajjaj

Deborah Oladimeji

Sumayah Kootbaully

Riyyan Mohamed Abdalla

Hannah Olukoga

Hanan Abdi Ali Adan

Mariam Yusuf Ahmed

Hoodo Yusuf Ahmed

Soba Dakuku Peterside

Binta Fatou Marie Yade

Khama Kamwenje

Nathan Escobar

Sumaya Osman 

Sayna Osman 

Click here to sign the open letter - Students
Click here to sign the open letter - Alumni/Staff