Diversity Digest

Diversity & Inclusion at King's College London

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#WomenofKings: Chenee Psaros

To celebrate International Women’s Day and #WomenofKings, we have invited the panelists who will be speaking at our Elevate – Gender Equality Network launch, to reflect on finding their own leadership. Chenee Psaros, a founding member of the LGBTQ+ Staff Network, speaks about leadership as understanding one’s own positional power and using that to promote others.

I think great leadership is having an understanding of how our systems of power marginalise and disenfranchise people. It is understanding that individuals should be considered through multiple lenses; they do not exist separately from their class, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability or gender. It is understanding how our own social privilege can create blind spots where we can disregard others without careful thought. Leadership is knowing that every person has something of value to offer.

As one of the founding members of Proudly King’s, the King’s LGBTQ+ Staff Network, I am proud to work alongside people who share similar views to mine.

We work tirelessly ensuring that in our institution we are equal, culturally as well as legally. We want to make sure that queer people feel comfortable enough to bring their whole selves to work, knowing that they can share who they are without fear of intimidation or discrimination. We also think it is important to enlighten and inform others of the obstacles queer people may face at work.

I believe that everyone has it within their power to be a leader because as a leader you don’t always need to do something great, you just need to do something brave. Standing up for something you believe in or challenging someone with more power when you think they are wrong are small acts of leadership. Leadership is knowing who you are and what you stand for and being open enough to change your mind.

It Stops Here: Intersectional Allies

To celebrate It Stops Here Week (25th Feb – 1st March), our wonderful Projects & Communications Intern, Riana Henry, has written a blog on the importance of engaging with our student community.

The theme of It Stops Here Week 2019 is “intersectional allyship”

But what does this mean and how does this support the vision of the It Stops Here campaign? 

Intersectionality is all about recognising the connection between different types of stigmas and oppression in our society. Allyship is all about supporting one another in our community.

“Intersectional allyship” can happen once we educate ourselves on the connection between the different stigmas prevalent in our society and how we can actually support those who are affected by them in a variety of ways.

Recently, KCL Sexpression ran the “Don’t Be a Prick campaign”. They posted information online about consent, sexual harassment and being an active bystander and then challenged students to be quizzed on this information. If students answered correctly they were rewarded with a cactus.

The aim of the campaign was to educate students and raise awareness about the issues we face in society around attitudes towards sexual harassment.

I was initially sceptical about how much of an impact this would have on solving such a massive problem.

However, after talking to students that came along to stall I was proved wrong. There were some students who had completely misunderstood what consent was, putting themselves and others at risk. Through the campaign we were able to do something about this and help to combat harassment before it had the chance to happen by educating and raising awareness.  

I remember one student mentioned it was ridiculous that we should have to run campaigns like this to educate adults on what consent is. Whilst it is shame this type of education is not prioritised in schools and it is terrible we live in a society so ignorant to these issues, we have the power to change this one step at a time.

The “Don’t Be a Prick” campaign is one small step, It Stops Here week another and if we can continue to take these small steps without being deterred by the complexity and vastness of the problem, I honestly believe we can achieve the ambitious aims of the It Stops Here campaign.

Just the two of us

For LGBTQ+ History Month, Chenee Psaros from our LGBTQ+ Staff Network, Proudly King’s, has kindly penned a guest blog on the depths of love.

LGBT History Month has the fabulous fortune of having Valentine’s Day blossoming into red, heart-shaped glory right in the middle of February. Barely having recovered from Christmas, we get cajoled into celebrating love at a time when we have more freedom to love whom we choose than ever before in the UK. And that is a good thing, right? Because, ‘love trumps hate’ and ‘choosing love’ can only make the world a better place.

In Western Society the privileging of couple-relationships is something that happens to everyone at some point in their lives, whether we are queer or we’re straight, whether we’re trans or we’re cis, no matter what our age, race or ethnicity, we are bound to be single at some point. Couple-privilege discriminates indiscriminately. We are consistently shown a narrative of romantic love or traditional relationships as one of two people meeting, falling in love, having a sexual relationship and settling down. Coupling is entwined with attraction, desire, love and sex. We are told these ingredients are essential for a successful partnership. In our history partnerships are mostly exclusive, and they are usually the most important relationship of our lives, surpassed only by those which we have with our children.  We are almost never given alternatives.

As part of its series of events for LGBT History Month, Proudly King’s, the King’s College Staff LGBTQIA Network is hosting What is Love? The Depths of Queer Relationships; a panel discussion to examine looking beyond the privilege of couple-relationships to offer up alternatives. We are exploring how and why people choose to be alone in a world designed for pairs. And why, if we can love our friends without limits, love our families forever, love our jobs and lead fulfilling lives, we are considered deficient if we don’t feel sexual attraction? Why do we conflate love relationships with sex? Why is being single seen as something to be pitied, even if it is by choice. Equally, if we can love more than one parent, more than one child, more than one sibling why is it is not common practice to love more than one partner. Why are people who chose to engage ethically in non-monogamous relationships villainised?

We are hoping to have a sensitive discussion regarding alternatives to traditional relationships. We will be highlighting those relationships included in the Asexual and Non-Monogamous spectrums. We are looking at narratives that go beyond prioritising romantic and sex-based relationships over non-sexual or non-romantic relationships. We hope you can join us.

Diversifying the Default

So, as I write it is the early days of 2019. The time of year when I  reflect on the year we’ve just said goodbye to and look forward and to the opportunities the new year will bring. On this horizon I see the deadline for submission of King’s Race Equality Chartermark looming large.

I recently finished Slay in Your Lane by Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke and it was like somehow someone had emptied my brain and heart to concentrate so much of my everyday life experience and of other black women (or women of colour) into these few hundred pages.

I reflected that I have had a number of experiences that resonated with Uviebinené and Adegoke’s words and it brought to mind something Patrick Johnson, Head of Equality & Diversity University of Manchester, said at the Leadership Foundation HE BME summit earlier this year. He talked about ‘default man and woman’ – the first, and singular, characteristics we use to describe people that then balloons into our other assumptions about people.

Here is my picture (and my partners!) – what do you see?

I am regularly flummoxed and frustrated to be sitting in meetings, often ones set up specifically to talk about equality, diversity and inclusion. Often those meetings involve discussing data or evidence or insight…

“Yes we looked at gender”

By which they mean the representation of women (usually) but not for race. Or…

“Yes we have done a review for ethnicity… but not for gender.”

Depending on my mood I might sit and wait to see any light bulbs flash up  simply by being faced with me – a person who clearly identifies and presents as a woman and who has obviously brown skin – or I might throw in something like “well people have ethnicities and genders at the same time” in a self-conscious or self-righteous tone.

I always feel simultaneously incredulous and awkward and often angry at having to point out this very basic fact. I’m also keenly aware that any such quips need to be contextualised with some good humour as the humourless feminist and angry black woman trope hang over my shoulders. At those moments I wish I could just sci fi like project a showing of Kimberley Crenshaw’s intersectionality talk.

But why does this happen?  I ask myself this a lot, and sometimes I ask others. It goes back to ‘default man and woman’ and our brain’s wish to simplify and so use these singular defining characteristics.

A key element of the success of our work in delivering our action plan for the Race Equality Chartermark will be whether we can get every member of the King’s community to seriously challenge their own perceptions and assumptions. When asked to review data and consider equality ‘stuff’ what picture of a person do we have in our mind? Are they just a man or a woman? What about their race, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief or marital status? That picture, if limited, means we risk forgetting/overlooking that there are many different types of identity combinations and our job in considering equality, diversity and inclusion is to consider all of them.

So, with that I say Happy New Year I urge you in 2019 to consider intersectionality and more importantly how you learn about your own and how you learn to actively think about it in your day to day working life.

Reflections on Race Equality – Natalie Armitage

In the lead up to our Race Equality Chartermark submission, we want to highlight some of the experiences of those working on race equality and the personal stories that take place behind the scenes. Over the coming months, we will be posting a series of guest blog posts written by those working closely on the submission which demonstrate the way race equality is a part of all of our stories.  Our second blog is from HR Case Consultant, Natalie Armitage, where she reflects on her own personal journey since joining the Race Equality Charter Mark Writing Group. 


If I could sum up my experience as part of the Race Equality Charter Mark Writing Group (RECMWG) in three words, I would say: positive, enlightening and inspirational.

When first asked to be a part of the RECMWG, my first reaction was excitement.

Absolutely, I really want to get stuck in and learn.

But almost immediately my next reaction was fear with a dash of imposter syndrome.

What could I possibly bring to the table? I am white, I have no real knowledge of this issue- I don’t know what I could add.

What this experience has taught me is that everyone has something to add – we all have a responsibility to learn beyond our own experience and use our voices. Every meeting I attend I learn, grow and feel more motivated to help with the success of race equality at King’s.

Learning to Use My Voice

One of the first meetings we had was a workshop which was part team-building, part action-planning. We spoke about our motivations for joining the group. I shared that my reasons were:

  • I have no knowledge of this area and I don’t like to be uninformed;
  • I wanted to have a greater impact at King’s;
  • I have held 3 different roles at King’s and my experience in the different areas may be useful

This exercise was absolutely essential to my journey in this group, I started to feel that my presence had meaning and that I DO have something to bring to the table. It also helped to build an invaluable sense of shared purpose amongst the team.

Reading for Further Understanding

A critical step in my journey was sharing books on Race Equality. The books I read were:

My default setting to gain knowledge or learn is always to pick up a book, so this was perfect. Renni Eddo-Lodge opened my mind to thoughts I have never had and discussions I have never shared before. This book really gets to the heart of race equality and how this issue affects BME people, in an honest and raw way.

The second book by Kalwant Bhopal made me immensely uncomfortable, in the best possible way. White privilege is something I have never contemplated before, it was soon obvious that this is very real. To confront this has been a real eye-opener, but it gave me the information I needed to feel more confident in discussions and expanded my thinking in ways that are great for the group, but also for me professionally and personally.

Listening to Prepare for Action

The third key moment I want to share is the Dialogue to Action workshop I attended to capture the discussions between staff and students, which will eventually go on to inform King’s Race Equality action plan. This was an amazing experience because taking notes requires you to actively listen.

I moved between groups and became utterly absorbed. The passion and the real-life experiences that were shared were extremely moving. It became clear, in a way I had not seen before, that race equality at King’s is a huge topic and has an effect on so many. It became so obvious that there are voices to be heard and that people are ready for action.

The RECMWG is well-informed and considered in its pursuit of positive change and it has been a real pleasure to contribute to a group filled with passionate and enthusiastic individuals with a shared sense of purpose.

We Should All Be Cheerleaders – Sarah Guerra

In the lead up to our Race Equality Chartermark submission, we want to highlight some of the experiences of those working on race equality and the personal stories that take place behind the scenes. Over the coming months, we will be posting a series of guest blog posts written by those working closely on the submission which demonstrate the way race equality is a part of all of our stories. Our first blog is from Director of D&I, Sarah Guerra on the importance of championing, mentoring and supporting one another. 


One of the biggest D&I priorities now is renewing the King’s Bronze level Race Equality Chartermark (REC).

Its very easy to get caught up in the commotion of making the submission and forgetting what the point of it is. I was determined that our participation this time should be real and not in any way a mechanical exercise. That alongside some recent occurrences has had me in a particularly reflective mood. The truth is race equality in general and particularly in the workplace is more than a job to me – it’s a big part of who I am

I am reading Slay in Your Lane (Black Girl Bible) (SIYL) by Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke. The collection of observations and insights has had me reflecting on my personal path and experiences. I often frame these negatively. My recent reflection has had me thinking about how much feeling out of place/other in much of my early career has led to me being resilient and gave me the skills and experience that led King’s to appoint me into this brilliant and brand-new role.  SIYL gives names to many of my experiences. That I have often had to codeswitch, to navigate with emotional intelligence, complex environments which were not accepting of me, that I had to overcome/side step barriers often which I couldn’t see, and which were mostly there because of my heritage and background – means I expect things to be hard. I expect to have to plan and have developed a wide range of personal tools and strategies to do this. Whilst I didn’t know it, I was faced with daily challenge to my competence and relevance. I can honestly say that hasn’t been my experience at King’s. But the experience I have means that I am able to cope – more than cope, in fact, thrive in the complex environment that King’s presents.

SIYL talks about the need for sponsors, mentors, coaches and cheerleaders in professional life. I’ve realised that for much of my career, these were absent for me. I didn’t know to look for them and I didn’t automatically attract them.

There were two turning points for me, the first having children which led me to change jobs. This helped me discover much about my own identity and drivers. I got the opportunity to work on increasing Black ,Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) participation within Trade Unions. Through that, the second turning point came when I met three women Beverley Martin, Maureen Martin (no they are not related)  and Vivienne Connell-Hall,  we for each other, suddenly, filled all these gaps (sponsorship, mentoring, coaching and cheerleading) simultaneously. Together we started a black women’s network.  We worked on multiple levels and brought about real change in our organisation and created self-belief in many women of colour. Literally one more junior woman said to us I never knew there were any people like me (of colour) in those senior grades.

 

Beverley died suddenly recently from cancer. She was only 7 years older than me. She, through her own self-assurance taught me to consider my value and have goals and targets, to not be fobbed off or delude myself.  She asked difficult questions and didn’t accept wishy-washy answers. I knew at the time I had experienced something special. But, it is only looking back that I realise what a turning point and catalyst the combination of those relationships was. Whilst on a regular basis we have lost touch, the majority of the original ‘Bamesisters’ were at the funeral. All of us recognised what special thing we had done pooling our resources, creating solidarity, support, advocacy and challenge.

These principles are now a key part of me and something less easily articulated about the person I discovered. The power I unleashed in myself because of knowing Beverley is the core of what SIYL also captures.  These for me are also the core of what the REC is about.  They are why I am motivated to do the work I do and want to have an impact here at King’s and in the world! I love that I am trusted and supported to do that.  Beverley, Maureen and Vivienne taught me the value of positive reinforcement.  Their influence has made positive reinforcement a big part of my personal philosophy.  This was missing in my early career and I know is missing for many people of colour still.

One of the things I particularly value about the REC process is that it requires us to reflect on where we are, our successes and what we still must achieve.  Personally, SIYL and Beverley’s death has led me to take inventory of where I am, of the relationships that boost and support me, doing what I can to notice what my needs are and recognising how to get the professional and personal nourishment I need on a day to day basis.

King’s is full of incredible people with huge talent and such strong values. I hope through my personal brand of leadership and via the REC we can get to a point where every single member of our community you feel they get the sponsorship, mentoring, coaching and cheerleading they deserve.

Language Matters: no ‘special’ education, thanks.

To kick off our UK Disability History Month celebrations, Erk Gunce, MA Student and member of King’s staff has kindly offered to write a guest post for us which reflects on the Dialogues on Disability conference and the importance of language when it comes to talking about the experience of being disabled. 

We re also hosting a very special Language and Disability Workshop on the 3rd of December as part of our UK Disability History Month events which will also launch of King’s new Disability Peer Mentoring Fund, an exciting initiative to help students get involved in inclusive practices at King’s.


To all allies, hello!

I have just returned from Dialogues on Disability. The week-long disability awareness program took place in Humboldt University, Berlin.  Every year, the Disability Support team at King’s sends students to different countries to increase their disability awareness. This year, at Humboldt University, we spent hours discussing the barriers imposed on disabled people and ways of removing them.

As a linguist, I am intrigued by language. The words we use… are they biased?  In Berlin, I led a workshop on Language and Disability. With students from all over the world, we analysed the language used to talk about disabled people. We weren’t happy with what we found.

The words we use to talk about disabilities have a lot of subtle biases. Think about the word ‘special education’. By calling someone special, we alienate them. Wouldn’t it be better to normalise disability, instead of alienating it?

There is much debate around terminology. Some people call themselves ‘disabled person’, others prefer ‘person with a disability’. Emphasizing the word ‘person’ highlights that one is a person, before anything else. Emphasizing the word ‘disabled’ highlights that disabled people are objects of a disablement – it is society who disable them, by not creating an accessible society.

The Guardian has a style guide. Columnists are told to avoid certain words, like ‘wheelchair-bound’. The word ‘wheelchair-bound’ suggests that someone is forced to use a wheelchair, that the wheelchair is a burden, an obligation. Isn’t it ironic to call a wheelchair a burden? A wheelchair is a liberator: it is what enables wheelchair users to contribute to society.

Did you see the British Government’s guide on inclusive language use ? They argue that we should say ‘non-disabled’, instead of ‘able-bodied’. Arguably, the word ‘able-bodied’ neglects mental health disabilities. How, then, can our language be fully inclusive? Think about the word ‘disorder’. Does it imply sickness? Why say that someone has a ‘learning disorder’, instead of a ‘learning difference’? Need I mention ‘delicate’, ‘spastic’, ‘handicapped’?

What I find unbelievable is that language bias is universal. Disability in French is invalidité. In Italian, it’s invalidità. In Slovenian, it’s invalidnosti. Can you see the trend? And it doesn’t end there. Connotations can change from one culture to another. Saying ‘hearing impaired’ can be offensive in America, but in the UK, it’s considered neutral.

So, how do we talk about disability? And which words are inclusive? My advice is to think. Reflect on the words you use and their subtle meanings. My second advice is to ask. Every disabled person will use different words to describe their condition. Ask what words they use to describe themselves. Better to ask than assume.

Need more on language and oppression? Check out things not to say . For more debates on disability, stay tuned for Disability Awareness Month in November. If you want to participate, get in touch!

Have you heard the one about two parents, two teenagers, a preschooler and a toddler?

To launch the Parents & Carers Network at King’s, Sarah Guerra has republished an article she wrote with her husband, Jon, eight years ago on the logistical roller coaster of co-parenting and career management:


SARAH: I work three days a week: the other two I have off – lunching, drinking coffee, doing my nails! Ha!

Yesterday, awoke at 6:30 to the sounds of pouring rain and raging wind. Threw on clothes, dashed around in the peace and quiet before the children got up – first load into the washing machine. Assemble lunches for the two older (step-)children (Martha, 15, and Flora, 13) – set them out so they practically trip over them and ‘cant’forget them. Got Kaela, 4, ready for nursery. Suggest Jon (partner) drop M & F off as the weather is so horrid.

Then get youngest, Lyra (18 months) up and breakfasted whilst whizzing up some soup and a chicken pie. Oh, what’s the time? 9am – rang the garage to check when a replacement car is arriving – ours needs repairing. Eventually, I discover it will be after 2pm. Then I luxuriate in my ten minutes of peace before Lyra and I are off swimming. It is now a beautiful spring day. Post swimming, shovel lunch into Lyra and race to collect Kaela at 1pm. Now (of course) it’s pouring – so decision to wear sandals and no coat is regretted!

Get home, pop Lyra into bed. Have given up filling this time with wholesome activities – so settle Kaela at TV while I sort the laundry and reload with the third and (please?) final lot! Swallow some soup while supervising the making of daddy’s birthday card.

2:30pm: off to speech therapy (a helpful mum arrives with her two children to watch Lyra). Kaela loves these sessions and though it’s of real benefit, it is yet one more thing to factor into the already mad schedule. As luck would have news of the replacement car’s availability arrives in the middle of the session. To leave Kaela, I have to scribble a written consent and dash back Starsky and Hutch style to swap cars. I retrieve Kaela and return home – it’s our turn to host ‘tea group’, which began as four or five stunned mothers and newborns and is now the utter mayhem of five mothers and nine assorted children ranging from one to four and a half.

I get tea on the table for all the children at 4.45pm – and have to say am very pleased when my chicken pie is wolfed down by everyone, apart, of course, from Kaela – who (as children do) has developed a bug in minutes and is shortly asleep! So, I despatch all the invaders and dash around tidying with my shadow Lyra. Have definite pangs of guilt over my conflicted emotions – if Kaela is ill, my week will be spoilt. I’m supposed to be at the Women’s TUC for two and a half days, which I have been really looking forward to, and that rests on Kaela going to nursery; if she’s unwell she can’t go. This spirals into a panic about what byzantine arrangements might be needed and weighing up how evil it would be of me to go when she is ill?

Martha and Flora arrive home – starving. In goes another chicken pie, meanwhile Kaela wakes, eats some toast and an unfeasible amount of jelly. I’m relieved, our schedule will not be disrupted.

Get two ‘babies’ in bed by 7.30, organise other’s homework, lunches, school trip forms etc, gobble chicken pie with my husband, then do the supermarket shop online, make some desperate attempts to manage our finances – shifting money from one place to another – but we are really in a deckchairs-on-the-Titanic situation. Unload that last load of washing. Then, in the vain hope of switching off, settle down on the sofa! But no, my mother (our unpaid childminder for tomorrow) decides now is the time to estate plan. It really brings home how effective the anti-IHT lobby is: my mum is so worried, and seems little reassured by my ‘you’re not rich enough to worry about it’ line.

Finally, at 9.30, I slump on the sofa and force Jon to watch Delia use various forms of frozen potato to conjure up “good meals”.

JON: I’m part-time too – four days a week. I spend the other day reading the paper and going to the pub… What? Oh all right then, not really: I do the same sort of thing as Sarah  – but in a manly way (that means I do less of it).

Typically, up at 6.30ish, unload the dishwasher. Then I wash all the dishes (must get a new dishwasher). Kaela is up around 7.00, demanding to watch some highly educational TV?

Martha and Flora come down 7.20ish – head off to school, might even take coats if the snow is more than a foot deep.

Under Kaela’s strict guidance, I select and bring down clothes, facilitating dressing whilst glued to the screen – pause viewing (aren’t hard discs wonderful?), and force her upstairs to clean teeth. Get Lyra up and dressed to take Kaela to nursery. If things go well (manageable nappy change; no last-minute, 20-minute session on the loo – for Kaela, not me), I can drop Kaela off by 8.00 and be back for breakfast shortly.

Then I consult ‘The List’. The importance of this document in the harmony of our household cannot be overstated. It tells me jobs that I ought to know need doing and the events of the day that I ought to remember. Needless to say, this is written by Sarah, who after years of waiting for the fog to lift from my mind about knowing what’s going on in the house, knows life is easier if she spells it out to me. So, I’ll then maybe empty the washing machine before spending some time with Lyra. It’s possible that Sky Sports might be on while we play – what can I do? It’s Lyra’s favourite!

Then I might take Lyra to music and/or push her through a couple of shops (she’s in a pushchair – it’s not abuse). Home for lunch, which she generally wolfs down although a full body bib is required. Then up to nursery and back to get Lyra in bed.

Kaela watches more telly or does some drawing or a puzzle while I do more from the list, including making tea because time gets compressed later in the afternoon. Then I join Kaela, trying to bring some order to her play. When I’ve completed my Lego hospital with fully-functioning operating theatre I realise she went to do something else a while ago and it’s time to get Lyra up and head to Kaela’s swimming lesson.

Pre-swimming they go in the playzone – cages with padded bars, slides and lots of plastic balls. Lyra loves it but is a bit small, so I end up having to squeeze through gaps too tight for a man of my dignity to rescue her at the bottom of the slide; at which point she goes back round and ends up stuck at the bottom again. If I’m quick getting out between each round I can sit down for as much as 30 seconds at a time. Martha and Flora arrive to do something healthy – swimming or gym – although I suspect that, just as school seems to be a place to chat with their friends, swimming is chatting in water and gym is chatting on treadmill. On to Kaela’s lesson. Lyra objects violently as I strap her into the pushchair to help Kaela into her costume. Getting a swimming cap on over long hair is a skill I’ve picked up recently!

Kaela has become firmly opposed to going in the boy’s changing rooms, so to avoid arguments I let Martha and Flora get her showered. Between 5:30 and 6:15, we go home for tea. As Sarah has ensured I’m very organised, tea is ready and two, three, four, five or six of us sit down to eat, depending on who’s home. Time for Lyra’s bath – Sarah might get home and the pace considerably increase – we get them into bed and sort the debris of the day, and the older girls’ and maybe have a chat. But I’ve opened a bottle of beer by now, so everything’s good. It’s back to work the next day. I can’t wait!

National Hate Crime Awareness Week

To mark National Hate Crime Awareness Week, Safrina Ahmed (It Stops Here Project Officer) will be discussing the It Stops Here campaign and its widening focus on religious hate crime.


It Stops Here

It Stops Here is a collaborative campaign by King’s College London and KCLSU to build an environment where our King’s community feels welcome, supported and safe regardless of their gender, sexuality, race or disability. Specifically, it aims to tackle bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct so that all members of our vibrant community can thrive.

The campaign has now run for three years, and it has achieved some important things including but not limited to; training students in Active Bystander Intervention, running an online KEATS module called ‘Consent Matters’ and organising Consent Week with the support of student ambassadors.

Expansion

The It Stops Here campaign is now expanding and widening its focus to address religious hate crime, which is currently a sector wide priority and we want to make sure King’s is at the forefront of leading this crucial work.

What is Hate Crime?

According to the Home Office, hate crime is

Any crime that is motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity can be classed as a hate crime

Hate crime is any criminal offence is perceived by the victim to be motivated by prejudice. Forms of hate crime have overall risen in England and Wales and religious hate crime made up 7% of hate crime in 2016-2017.  Higher Education has not been immune to this.

The Community Security Trust’s Anti-Semitic Incidents Report 2015 showed that of the 924 anti-Semitic incidents that were recorded, 21 involved students, academics or other student bodies. 13 of these incidents took place on HE campuses.

Tell   is a national project which records and measures anti-Muslim incidents in the United Kingdom.  In 2015, they received 1,128 reports of anti-Muslim incidents in 2015. Of the 468 ‘offline’ attacks, 6% of female victims and 14% of all male victims were at an educational institution when the incident occurred.

Whilst this data is not wholly reliable, it indicates the need for institutions to tackle religious hate crime so that it was better recorded, and all our students and staff are able to study and work free from any form of religious intolerance.

Intersectionality

Many students also experience religious hate crime at the intersection of their identities. Evidence submitted to the UUK’s taskforce shown that some women were targeted for sexual harassment across a number of their characteristics – such as their ethnicity, race, and faith.

Research from the National Union of Students found that one in three of their respondents were fairly or very worried about experiencing verbal abuse, physical attacks, vandalism or property damage due to their religion at their place of study. This was a gendered experience; women who wear Islamic garments were significantly more likely to be very worried about being abused.

Our Next Steps

Evidence from both within and out of the sector has highlighted the importance of Higher Education institutions  responding to religious hate crime. It is for this reason that the Office for Students pledged to tackle the problem and given eleven universities, including King’s, £480,000 worth of funding to tackle religious hate crime.

Over the next two years, we will be exploring different ways to ensure we protect our community against religious hate crime and harassment such as community-specific active bystander workshops, an interfaith student fund and improved anonymous disclosure platforms.

Mentoring Matters

I’ve been reflecting on the elements that have fed into my feeling successful in my career and frankly in my life.

In my vast experience (I am approaching a birthday and feeling the weight of my years) one of the things that has made the biggest difference to my personal growth and career progression have been great mentors. ‘Mentor’ is a word that is bandied about and often misunderstood. So, as we build on the success of King’s previous Diversity Mentoring Scheme and launch the ‘More than Mentoring scheme’ this month I want to share what it has meant to me and how I have found it beneficial.

I have had many mentors, but those who have had the most impact are namely: Michelle Wyer, Caroline Waters and Jonathan Slater. These are individuals who have had illustrious careers: Michelle was a female president of a male-dominated union, Caroline, amongst other things, is the deputy chair of the ECHR and Jonathan, who I met while at the Ministry of Defence, is now the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education.

Whilst the three of them were very different in life experience and personality, they had in common a high level of self-awareness, a sense of being comfortable in their own skin, a strong professional skill in their respective areas and great knowledge of their organisational contexts.

More importantly for me, as a mentee, they were empathetic listeners who put themselves in my shoes without dismissing or patronising me. They put thought and effort into seeing the connections and gaps that were in my blind spots. They challenged, supported or nudged me into thinking about situations differently. They helped me work out what was important to me, what my options were, as well as my pitfalls – including those I was creating for myself. Importantly they supported and encouraged me to move from conversation to action. At different times they each personally taught me or helped me seek input to develop new skills.

They provided a wide angle, zoom and telescopic lens, sometimes on me – why did I believe I couldn’t do it or that the world wouldn’t accept me? It wasn’t without challenge or emotion – at any given point I would feel like I couldn’t do it, or as if I they were prodding me to be someone I am not. Or like I just wanted them to help me – to make something go away, or let me hide under my duvet or whatever.

Mentoring isn’t just one way. These relationships worked because we had real rapport – mutual interest and respect.  Here I’ve focused on being the ‘mentee’ but I know from has also mentoring others I could equally have about how rewarding and developmental I found mentoring can be as well.

So, I am proud that we are launching More than Mentoring as the value and benefits of mentoring are well proven and I am a living example. The scheme will also provide the opportunity to network and develop a community through training, workshops and events.  Here at King’s those who identify as disabled, women, BME or LGBTQ+   are underrepresented at senior level and this is one form of positive action that we are taking to help address this. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, sign up here.

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