Here are the minutes of the last Branch Meeting
Here are relevant documents from the recent UCU TEF day on 17th March.
Jackie Smart’s guide to the TEF: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtaWtlc2VhcmJ5c3dlYnNpdGV8Z3g6NGJkZTJhNjBiOWUwYjFjMg
Valerie Coultas’ paper on Building Communities of Practice in Teaching and Learnuing https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtaWtlc2VhcmJ5c3dlYnNpdGV8Z3g6NzJjOTVlODY2MDdjNDk2Mw
On February 10th, Kingston UCU marked the Day of Action against Workplace Racism with a series of events intended to kick off an ongoing discussion about experiences of racism and discrimination within the Kingston University community, and to explore what kinds of things we might do as a union to support colleagues and students who face these issues. The events were organized by the Kingston UCU Equalities Working Group, which hopes to shape and expand its work in response to the series of invigorating discussions and connections made that day, and to do so by working in tandem with the Union of Kingston Students, UNISON, students and student societies, university units and services concerned with these issues.
A first panel on Prevent was meant to provide inputs to help KU staff and students answer the question, “What does Prevent Mean for Us?” A part of the government’s overall counter-terrorism policy, the Prevent strategy is an effort to encourage public sector service providers (since September 2015, including university teaching and non-teaching staff) to monitor student behaviour for signs of growing radicalisation. This panel was only the latest in a series of campus discussions attempting to come to terms with what this controversial policy implies for the KU community.
The panel began with two films which exposed the growing experience of Islamophobia faced by Kingston students. Following the screenings, student film maker Jamie Wheeler-Roberts explained that she felt that the best way to expose the racism and fear faced by fellow students was to let them tell their stories in film. Bill Bolloten (a former teacher, educational consultant and member of the #EducationNotSurveillance network), argued that the implementation of Prevent at the primary and secondary school levels has been poorly thought through, and risks inflicting long-term damage on those Muslim students (as young as 4 years in age) who have been reported for expressing “extremist ideas” on the flimsiest and often misplaced grounds. He suggested that the best way to combat this risk to community relations is to open a broad space for dialogue on the policy. Politics lecturer Jessie Blackbourn, a specialist in counter-terrorism law and human rights, provided a brief overview of the legal grounds of Prevent, noting the gap between the government’s stated intentions and the vague and often unproven assertions on which the policy is based, all of which will make its implementation either unworkable or counter-productive. Amanda Latimer, a member of the Equalities WG, provided an open invitation for teaching staff to get involved in coming up with an educator’s response to Prevent that works for the Kingston community, keeping in mind the risk to the relationship of trust between a teacher and student that successful learning & teaching depends upon. The discussion that followed drew together ideas and concerns from students from Kingston ISOC and Politics Society, lecturers and parents, and reinforced the need for different parts of the university to work together on this issue.
In the following session, Winsome Pinnock (UCU Equalities Officer and Head of the Creative Writing department) lead a screening and discussion of the new film, Witness: An Oral History Project, produced by the UCU Black Members Standing Committee. The film chronicles the experiences of workplace racism and discrimination faced by Black members of colleges and universities. It placed disturbing individual testimonies of everyday and institutional racism against the picture of systemic discrimination that was recently revealed in a survey of 631 Black union members working in the FE and HE sector. The study revealed that a staggering 71% of Black members of staff have reported being subject to bullying and harassment from managers, and that 90% have faced barriers to promotion in colleges and universities.
These stories and findings resonated with staff in attendance, who shared stories of facing a racial glass ceiling to promotion and progression, and of feeling unsupported in their training as junior academics to enter the competitive world of academic career development due to their racial background. The discussion emphasized the importance of bringing Black staff together in the workplace to fight the isolation that comes with experiences of racism; the importance of mentoring opportunities to support the professional development of BME staff members; and finally, the responsibility of trade unions to directly address racism within the workplace and union branches themselves.
The day finished with the Big Black Read: an intimate group reading of the award-winning prose poem Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, coordinated by Winsome and Dave Tinham, both of the Equalities WG. The reading drew in a large, diverse crowd of people from different corners of the university, returning students, and acclaimed actor Burt Caesar, a veteran actor and teacher whose work includes performances with the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as in feature films like Skyfall. Following naturally from the previous session, the poem was read by a succession of readers while images from its text were screened in the background, allowing each to explore the subtle and almost inexpressible, to starker ruptures of racism that mark the everyday of an African-American woman living in Obama’s “post-racial America.”
The UCU Equalities Working Group is currently working to address the BME attainment gap and issues faced by BME staff with both Kingston staff and students, as well as the Prevent strategy, and is headed by Winsome Pinnock, Kingston UCU Equalities Officer. If you have experienced racism or other forms of discrimination in the workplace, or would like to get involved with the Equalities Working Group to address these and other equalities issues in the future, please email Winsome (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dave Tinham (email@example.com) or Amanda Latimer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are a BME member of staff at Kingston and would be interested to join a newly forming Kingston BME staff network, then please email Winsome at email@example.com
Resources mentioned above:
UCU Day of Action Against Workplace Racism homepage (also includes links to UCU’s work on a range of Equalities issues)
Are You Islamophobic? (3:21, directed by Ajoke Tairou)
What does it mean to be Muslim in London? (3:59, directed by Jaime Wheeler-Roberts)
Education Not Surveillance. Bill Bolloten, 22 October 2015, Institute of Race Relations Blog.
Stop, look, listen: the University’s Role in Counterterrorism. Jessie Blackbourn and others, 14 January 2016, Times Higher Education Supplement.
Witness: an Oral History Project (31:57, UCU Black Members Standing Committee).
Report: The Experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic Staff in Further and Higher Education. February 2016, UCU.
Audio clip: From Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine. March 2014, Poetry Foundation.
Review: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine review – the ugly truth about racism. Guardian, 30 August 2015.
You are in the dark, in the car, watching the black-tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of colour when there are so many great writers out there.
You think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively insulted or you have done something that communicates this is an okay conversation to be having.
Why do you feel comfortable saying this to me? You wish the light would turn red or a police siren would go off so you could slam on the brakes, slam into the car ahead of you, fly forward so quickly both your faces would suddenly be exposed to the wind
(From “Citizen” by Claudia Rankine)
Described as a “powerful poem for today” Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” won the 2015 Forward Prize for poetry.
As part of the UCU Day of Action Against Racism in the Workplace we are inviting you to take part in a relay reading of this extraordinary poem about Everyday Racism
The reading will be led by acclaimed actor Burt Caesar who has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal Court Theatre, and in feature films such as Skyfall.
Join us at 4pm on Wednesday 10th February on the Penrhyn Road Campus in Town House Room 102 (TH102) where we will read the poem from start to finish. You can take part in the reading or simply listen. Either way, we look forward to seeing you at this event.
Refreshments will be served
12 – 1.30pm What Does Prevent Mean For Us? – Panel Session (JG2001)
What does the Prevent legislation mean for us and how should we respond? Come and find out more at this panel session featuring KU students, NUS Black Students, Bill Bolloten (Education Consultant), Jessie Blackbourn (KU Politics) and KU student films. Hosted by UCU this event is open to all staff and students.
2 – 3.30pm Witness (30 min., 2016) – Film Screening & Discussion (JG4007)
A discussion screening of new film ‘Witness’, an oral history project made by and featuring UCU Black Members speaking about their experience of everyday racism in the workplace. To be followed by open discussion. The findings of the recent UCU survey of Black members on their experience of racism in the workplace will also be available. This session is open to all staff.
4 – 5:30pm UCU Big Black Read – Live! (TH102)
A relay reading of ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ by Claudia Rankine. Special external guests will share the reading with KU staff and students. All Students & Staff Welcome
UCU hourly paid survival guide
Hourly paid staff make a huge contribution to the education sector and yet the vast majority are low paid and have no job security or career progression. UCU’s ‘hourly paid survival guide’ uses the experience and advice of members to provide a practical resource for such staff.
*** UPDATED JULY 2015 ***
- outlines the rights of hourly paid staff and what they can expect from their institutions
- offers practical advice on how to survive difficult employment conditions, and
- suggests ways in which to seek improvements.
It also explains what UCU is trying to achieve and offers a range of support options.
The guide provides a great opportunity to recruit new members and organise so that hourly paid members are better-represented in their union and increase UCU’s ability to achieve much-needed improvements for them.
Download the guide below, or to request a printed copy please email UCU organiser Ronnie Kershaw: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time: Meeting 1 -2pm, sandwiches from 12:30pm
Date: Thursday 27 November
Venue: KPTK402, Knights Park campus
Agenda to include:
- Proposed Business and Law Performance Points scheme
- Students Not Suspects – Tier 4 register practice in FASS
- TOMs in IT and Finance
- UCU Survey
- Points brought up by members
Come and have a say in your union: all members and prospective members welcome!
We are calling for nominations for the following positions on the KU UCU branch committee:
Branch Membership Secretary
Branch Health and Safety Officer
Branch Equalities Officer
Branch Committee (four places)
Site Health and Safety Representatives (Kingston Hill, Knight’s Park, Roehampton Vale, and Penrhyn Road)
Nominations must be submitted to our Returning Officer Peter Hallward (P.Hallward@kingston.ac.uk, School of Humanities, FASS) by 17:00 on Wednesday 9 April 2014. You must use the nomination form and obtain the signatures of two supporters.
All candidates are entitled to submit an election statement (also by 9 April).
If necessary, elections will be held by Friday 2 May. Results will be announced at our AGM on 7 May.
For further details please see the Branch Election Regulations.
All members are invited and encouraged to attend our next branch meeting:
Date: Wednesday 19 March
We have a lot to discuss, including:
- Fighting the proposed closure of the School of Surveying & Planning
- Associate Professor applications and dilution of grade roles
- Marking boycott
- Course ‘hit lists’