In light of the recent events in Minneapolis, Minnesota and across major cities in the United States, we at The Stand support and stand in solidarity with those affected by such horrific acts of violence and the Black Lives Matter Movement.
It is so important to use our voice and privilege, especially whilst at university, to spread awareness and help when others are in need. To know when to have uncomfortable conversations and to bring into light issues that need to be seen are our personal responsibility. To ignore these issues, or worse, to turn away from them and not recognize right from wrong is a tragedy and is what fuels racism.
St Andrews has received much scrutiny for its lack of acknowledging the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the death of George Floyd. Students have expressed anger at the university and administrators, many who placed importance on the financial impacts of Covid-19 on the university over commenting on the murder of George Floyd. The university’s participation in Tuesday’s “blackout challenge” received much criticism, with many students claiming that it was only for performance, and that more action must be taken. For many students of colour at St Andrews, the lack of diversity and accessibility for POC remains a huge issue that must change. Black students make up 0.7% of the student body, with an even fewer number of black lecturers and academics (six, to be exact according to the university’s statistics). These numbers display the vivid reality that our university has done little to nothing on addressing important issues such as diversity, racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sean Nwachukwu, a 4th year studying chemistry and medicinal chemistry, states, “In uni I am fortunate enough to never experience overt racism. However, there were times where I would notice some subtle things and behaviours, like some racist jokes, suspiciously worded compliments, etc. While nothing much has happened to me, I have unfortunately heard some horrific stories that my peers have gone through. While the UK and Scotland have a troubled history with racism, the truth is that it is small compared to the systemic racism in America. However, even though racism isn’t ingrained into British culture to the extent of America, it’s for this reason that some are more reluctant to talk about it. While students have shown support, it shouldn’t end here. What they need to do next is to listen to blacks about their experience, educate their peers about racism (both overt and subtle) and call it out when they see it.”
Students at St Andrews have continuously expressed the need for change, and the horrific events of the past week have brought to light many of the deeper problems previously ignored by the university. Tia Kinuthia, a 2nd year studying sustainable development reflected on her first year at uni, stating “So far I have found the university very welcoming and inclusive, especially the ACS [St Andrews African and Caribbean Society] community. However, I have noticed the lack of black lecturers and black students overall. I feel as an ethnic group we are very underrepresented throughout the university, which is something the university should be focusing on. I know last year a petition went round to make applications name blind which I think is something they should definitely consider doing because it gets rid of any biases. For me, I was worried that the only reason that I got accepted into St Andrews was due to my ethnic sounding last name and I was worried that I was accepted so that they could keep their statistics up. However, I think overall the university needs to put more measures in place to get more black and mixed students to come to the university.” Sean and Tia’s experiences at St Andrews display the stark reality for black students and POC at university, and the reality that our university has done little to nothing to change its ways.
In contrast, at St Andrews it is the students that have been doing what they can, speaking up on social media, participating in protests, donating to bail relief funds, signing petitions, or writing letters to administrators and politicians. In town, students gathered on Castle Sands to make posters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and to protest the death of George Floyd (while socially distancing). Around the world, countless others from St Andrews are doing what they can, and we ask that if you have not done so, to please do the same.
If you are a student at St Andrews, and you have spent your time at uni going to balls, going out for drinks, going to fashion shows, polo tournaments, fancy dinners – please step back and think. If you can spend your time and money on things like these, please consider putting your resources elsewhere by supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement. Below is a list of several organisations fighting for social and racial justice that need your support RIGHT NOW:
Email template to university administrators:
A compiled list of organisations that need help:
We are aware that we will never understand certain racial issues that are incredibly painful. We only ask that our readers put themselves in someone else’s shoes to support these issues that desperately need our attention. As a student newspaper and media outlet, we pride ourselves on giving people a voice, especially those that are too often silenced or unheard. It is important to use our privilege and our resources, especially here at St Andrews to do so.
If you have any written statements that you would like to have published regarding this issue, please email us at [email protected]. We want to hear your voice, because it matters. Most importantly, black lives matter.