Dear LSE’s Black Students,
As Black students at LSE and officers at the Students' Union, we have attested first-hand the institutional racism at LSE and the difficulties in being Black in a mostly white university. Although we have been working intensively in making sure that LSE offers better provisions and support for Black students, we acknowledge the pain and frustration the last BLM Motion might have caused. From Black officers to Black students, this is our attempt to offer you a decent explanation of what is happening at the Students' Union, and we hope that it can provide you with some answers and comfort.
So far in our elected terms, we have already been working on all of the actions included in the motion. We wanted to put these actions in as part of a motion for three reasons:
- To mandate the SU to work on the actions for three years minimum, which would ensure that this work was at the top of the priority list for future officers.
- As a tool for lobbying LSE on these issues, we hoped to be able to show a strong evidence base of support for the actions included in the motion. Although this work is already being taken on by elected officers, having actions formalised in a motion puts much more pressure on LSE to respond and take on our actions.
- To bring visibility to our work on anti-racism as officers, and as an opportunity for allies throughout the whole student community to join us in support of the actions we are already taking and will continue to take.
However, there's been some confusion about the purpose and wording of the motion we put forward. If you’ve read the motion, you'll see it's targeted at lobbying LSE to make the necessary changes to ensure Black students’ needs are met at LSE beyond just solidarity statements. The demands in the motion are things we as a committee are actively working on. The motion was meant to draw support from the LSE student body and to pass the motion which would make it LSESU policy for the next 3 years after we’re gone. In light of the BLM protests we didn't want this campaign to be reduced to performative activism but rather, to ensure that the SU as well as LSE are held accountable to support their Black students. This means that regardless of who the future student reps are they’ll be mandated to actively work to support Black students. The motion was created in order to allow students and allies to come together and support the work we are doing in lobbying LSE as a collective.
The motion was initially called ‘Black Lives Matter: LSE should commit to improving the experiences of black students’ however it needed to be changed to phrase it as a question ‘Should LSESU…’ as it goes for a vote to students, since the LSESU is a democratic body. This is done for all SU motions. The phrasing of ‘should’ was not meant to minimise the importance of supporting Black students or put it up for debate/make it a choice - it was simply changed to suit the format of how motions are presented at the SU. The SU is independent from the LSE therefore they can’t make LSE make changes, only lobby them if there is student support to do so. The phrasing of the motion was crude, however, the motion was not meant to alienate Black students. Critiquing the motion based on the phrasing misses the point of the motion. We are already working to support Black students and making the changes that we see as non-negotiable, both from our personal experience and through discussions with other reps and students. Your Anti-Racism Officer is currently working on lobbying LSE to improve how racism is reported at LSE. That doesn't mean if the motion does not get the necessary votes she will stop. We all see it as something that needs immediate change so we will continue to work on it.
Unfortunately, the motion did not get the 250 votes it needed to be part of LSESU policy for the next 3 years but regardless we will continue to work on these issues and lobby LSE. Your support to help us make these changes, as someone who is part of the LSE community, would mean so much to us. In order to actually see real change and not the same empty promises as usual we need everyone’s support in this. We shouldn't have to fight for these changes to happen but unfortunately we do.
Your Student Representatives