Race Equality Network
A supportive, grassroots activist network
of staff and students at Lancaster University.
About the Network
LUREN was established in 2019, as a way for staff and students to support one another, collaborate and coordinate campaigns for race equality at Lancaster University, UK. Despite repeated attempts to put race equality on the LU Management agenda, so far there has been little progress. We warmly welcome new members, who can get involved in various ways (see below). We believe Higher Education Institutions should be equally accessible and welcoming for all.
This website serves as a landing platform, to connect with others, learn about work that is ongoing, and inspire future campaigns.
Race Equality Charter Membership and Accreditation
The Race Equality Charter (REC) helps Universities "to identify institutional & cultural barriers standing in the way of minority ethnic staff & students."
Since 2016, multiple staff and students have requested that the University honour its commitment in the Equality Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Vision 2020 to become a member of the REC by 2017 and achieve the Bronze Award by 2020. Neither happened.
The Vice-Chancellor Prof Andy Schofield has re-committed to the REC in his inclusivity statement on 12th June 2020. A new Strategic Race Advisory Group has been established as of August 2020 to oversee membership of the REC takes place by April 2021.
LUREN continues to put pressure on Senior Management to prioritise the education, wellbeing and inclusion of its staff and students, by becoming a REC member and achieving the Bronze Award by 2025.
Decolonising Lancaster University
In 2018 Sofia Akel published the Decolonising Lancaster University Report, examining Lancaster's links to colonialism, with recommendations on how to decolonise curricula at the University. It also addressed specific institutional racism, such as the attainment gap and lack of diversity amongst staff.
A number of staff and students signed the pledge to decolonise their practices. No steps were taken by Senior Management.
LUREN supports Decolonising work being undertaken by staff and students across the University, and, alongside the Decolonising Lancaster Group is working on an Anti-Racist Teaching Toolkit.
The Decolonising Lancaster initiative was established in November 2019, and comprises academics, professional services staff, and students from across the faculty. Its aim is to improve our awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding HE’s exclusivity and hostility by amending our teaching, research, and other practices accordingly, and by recognising - and changing - many of the implicit biases present in our university, its culture, and its administrative systems. To be added to the Lancaster Decolonising Teams for events and resources please contact Richard Budd or Sunita Abraham.
The Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) EDI Forum has created a LEC Decolonising Working Group. For more information, please contact Giovanni Bettini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a fledgling Race Equality Working Group in the School of Computing and Communications. If you are in SCC and would like to get involved please contact Emily Winter.
The Library is engaged in essential decolonising work.
The Medical School has a Decolonising Working Group - you can find out more by contacting Brigit McWade.
BME Medics Lancaster is a welcoming and inclusive community for medics, allied healthcare professionals and healthcare academics in Lancaster. Our aim is to bring together, support and elevate people from BME backgrounds and contribute to the future of healthcare. BME Medics hosts speakers and events across a variety of topics, provides a space for students and faculty to meet and discuss and engages in education, activism and outreach work on campus and in the local area. We celebrate all cultures and everyone from all backgrounds is welcome to join us!
BME Medics website: www.bmemedics.co.uk
Why Is My Curriculum White?
The Why Is My Curriculum White campaign started at UCL, and was established in Lancaster in April 2016 by Racheal Alake, Sofia Akel, Ellie Williams, Mena Osi and Chimmy Ngoma. It is independent, student-led and supported by LUREN. It focuses on drawing attention to the impact of a Euro-centric curriculum on students and campaigning for the decolonisation of the curriculum across the University. They hold events and publish reports and surveys.
Their 2020 Report Built-in Barriers: The Role of Race in shaping BME student experiences at Lancaster University is shocking, insightful and calls for systemic change.
To learn more about Decolonising, this TED Talk is a useful place to start.
The Race Pay Gap
According to research carried out by UCU, BAME academic staff at UK Universities face a pay gap of 9% when compared to white colleagues, rising to 14% for black academics.
84% of academic staff in UK higher education and 93% of university professors are white.
At Lancaster University, none of the statutory Gender Pay Gap Reports of 2017, '18 or '19 mention gaps based on intersectional identities such as race and gender.
LUREN challenges workplace representation and culture at Lancaster University, putting pressure on Senior Management at the University to take concrete action to address the race pay gap, and lack of diversity amongst staff.
The Race Attainment Gap
The #ClosingTheGap Report by UUK and NUS in May 2019 found a 13% gap between the likelihood of white students and students from BAME backgrounds getting a 1st or a 2:1 degree.
Drilling down however, the gap varies by ethnicity, with the biggest gap existing for black students: 25%.
The Office for Students (OfS) has set a target for the higher education sector to eliminate the unexplained gap in degree outcomes by 2024-25.
LUREN challenges educational racism and bias at Lancaster University, putting pressure on Senior Management at the University to address the attainment gap, for example using the recommendations in the #ClosingTheGap Report.
Cotton mills in Caton built in 1783 by Thomas Hodgson (1738–1817). Thomas & his brother John worked as slave traders for over 30 years. They were involved in the capture & sale of about 14,000 people.
Decolonising Lancaster: Recovering Histories
Professor Imogen Tyler's historical sociological project, Decolonizing Lancaster has emerged out of her research on stigma and power. Motivated by BLM organisers in Lancaster, she now works with the city council, local school teachers, community groups and museums towards the formation of a black history group, focused on recovering histories in the city. As part of this reparative community based work, she is also currently developing a resource pack for local schools, which can be used as part of history and citizenship curricula.
Through the Morecambe Bay Poverty Truth Commission she has also successfully supported a commission with the local Gypsy and Traveller community in Lancaster and Morecambe, securing the future of the Mellishaw Traveller site and for the City Council to take ownership from Lancashire County Council.
If you are interested in being involved in this work - as a researcher, school or member of the community you can contact her directly. LU researchers may also be interested in joining the Social Action Research Group.
LU Campus has seen a rise in hate speech and racist incidents both in and out of the classroom.
In October 2018 the LUSU Snowsports Society White-Tshirt event became a racist hate-speech incident. The BME Officer Chloe Long whistle-blew on LUSU mismanagement and was fired.
Staff and students protested strongly, and LUREN was born. LUREN continues to campaign for greater commitment from LU towards campus being a safe space for all.
LUREN is working with the Chaplaincy and Student Counsellors to create a Digital Safe Space for students from ethnic minority backgrounds to meet and share their experiences.
A City and University of Sanctuary
LUREN members are involved in many projects and organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the city and at the University.
Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary is a group of volunteers built on inclusivity and hospitality.
East Meets West run drop in sessions for refugee women and pre-school children on Thursdays between 12 and 2 pm at Lancaster Baptist Church.
The Lancaster Sanctuary Fellowship provides a safe environment for academics unable to work due to persecution or conflict in their own countries.
The Student Red Rose Society works with the Students Union, local NGOs, and students to provide opportunities to asylum seekers and refugees.