In this blog, the current Vice President Graduates for Oxford SU, Devika, writes how students can influence the change we need at Oxford. Devika finished her MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies from the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies at St Antony's College in 2020. She is also a student representative on the University’s Race Equality Task Force.
The importance of the Race Equality Task Force
I was introduced to the work of the University’s Race Equality Task Force (RETF) as a student member of Oxford SU’s Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality (CRAE) and became a committee member when I started my term as VP Graduates. Conversations about race, harassment, equality and equity are not easy, especially in an environment such as Oxford. However, that is exactly the point of the RETF, to make sure these uncomfortable, important conversations are happening in the University environment in all its ranks.
A key priority for the RETF in my eyes is to not only engage in such difficult conversations but also to subsequently ensure that the University grows from them, as opposed to silencing them. As a committee member, I am honoured to write that I have witnessed the RETF actively engage in the above.
Some of the key points that have been brought up as part of these discussions and are now a part of the consultation document include:
- access to counsellors of colour
- reimbursing students for their labour
- involving students in curriculum development
At Oxford SU, we are also quite intrigued and focused on the section titled ‘creating a harassment-free culture’.
Why students should take part in the consultation
Am I satisfied and happy with where the consultation document is? No. I doubt that I ever will be because there is always more that we can do when it comes to such issues. But this is where active engagement in the consultation is crucial, from mine and potentially your end.
Of the many committees I sit on as the 2021-22 VP Graduates, the Race Equality Task Force perhaps symbolises the most hope for me. Hope because firstly, it is a direct representation of the University reacting to the strong student voices and work on race and diversity issues. Secondly, because it is reacting with a response that is not alienating students but instead asking for active participation in any capacity possible.
If you wake up and contribute only one single comment to the consultation, my belief lies in the fact that that one comment might just end up influencing the change it was meant for. No contribution is too big or too small when it comes to the consultation, it will contribute to change that we all need at this point - making Oxford inclusive, diverse and anti-racist.
The consultation closes at 5pm on Wednesday 1 December 2021.