Diversity Matters Awareness Week (#DMAW16) took place on 18 – 22 April at University of the Arts London. The project was supported by the Teaching and Learning Exchange’s Student-Staff Collaboration Fund, following a funding application from Kai Lutterodt, LCC BA Journalism student, SU LCC Officer and founder of Diversity Matters project, and UAL staff Jennifer Williams-Baffoe and Tanicia Payne. We invited Kai to guest blog for us about the event. Read on to hear more. Photographs by AGRUPA.
Kai: The project proposal was initially for a Diversity Matters women’s day event to highlight BAME women staff at UAL during International Women’s Day. However we revised it to focus specifically on “race” – a subject not often delved into when we talk about diversity.
The success of the DMAW16 events was due to the “student-staff” collaboration part, which is a compulsory element of projects to be considered for funding from the Exchange’s staff-student collaboration fund.
Having the support of staff collaborators Tanicia Payne and Jennifer Williams-Baffoe, as well as Tili Andoh (Head of Diversity at UAL) and Shades of Noir director Aisha Richards, gave the project a wider audience and larger UAL network. This was particularly visible in the turnout for our main panel event on the 21 April – Why does race matter in the learning environment? The panel included senior staff Jeremy Till and George Blacklock as well as BAME staff and practitioners Jennifer Williams, Tanicia Payne, Lawrence Lartey, SUARTS Education officer Bee Tajudeen and UAL alumna Samia Malik.
The week of events was well attended and feedback has shown that DMAW16 allowed both BAME and non-BAME staff and students a safe space to openly discuss issues of race, which are factors in attainment and retainment. We were also able to question what UAL senior management is doing to tackle the lack of BAME academic staff in senior positions at UAL (find out more about UAL So White).
Jennifer Williams-Baffoe said:
When Kai approached me with her idea I instantly wanted to support her due to her passion and commitment to the topic. I certainly think Kai has set a positive ball in motion as the topic can be seen as a sensitive one, however, I think it is healthy to discuss diversity in all its forms.
Staff and students at UAL need to be “World Class” not just “One Class” and UAL could be the university to lead the way on this. The creative industries are incredibly diverse and I do believe that we need to equip our staff and students with the skillsets to address this. My wish is that whenever the topic of diversity is raised no one should feel uncomfortable talking about it and I believe that this can happen once training is set in motion for staff and students alike. I believe that Diversity Matters is one of the suitable platforms at UAL to disseminate this.
Overall DMAW16 has proven that an idea can become a reality if you’re given the right opportunities!
To find out more about DMAW16 and Diversity Matters follow-on events this term, visit the Diversity Matters blog and Facebook page. You can also check out a short film about DMAW16 on our YouTube channel
Special thanks to the Teaching and Learning Exchange for this opportunity, which resulted in an empowering experience! Also thanks to Widening Participation, the Diversity Team, SUARTS, and Shades of Noir.
Applications for 2016/17 Student-Staff collaboration fund will open in Summer 2016. Subscribe to the Teaching and Learning Exchange bulletin to receive updates.