White Students Need Not Apply: The Reply

So as mentioned in the earlier post I wrote an article regarding the NUS and its Black Students’ Campaign. Sadly, despite it being a Brunel-centric argument and not a theory to be applied to all society, I was asked to get a right of reply from the NUS themselves. As is the law under the Journalist Code set by the PCC.

After emailing them in mid November, a reply was finally received on the deadline of the issue after the one I had inquired about. Ho Hum. So my editor had to email them to confirm that it was too late to submit the reply to carry alongside the article, but we will happily run it in the following (January) issue. The we received it….

What follows is the unedited reply that the NUS have sent us regarding my article. It will be printed (also unedited) in the January issue of Le Nurb. Enjoy…

“Racism, sexism, homophobia and disablism are a reality that finds expression in different guises and different contexts across many students’ daily experiences. To suggest otherwise, or to leave those individual students to address this society-wide issue would be a serious abrogation of the entire student community’s responsibility to our classmates, our friends, and our family. NUS works with students at colleges and universities across Britain to offer positive support and representation to challenge racism and promote strong and inclusive campuses.

The message of the poster is clear: given that the reality of racism is harsh and it continues to manifest itself in many different forms and expressions, this poster campaign successfully captures and confronts this multi-dimensional reality of racism and provokes a great deal of debate about how we convert paper legislation into genuine social and cultural practice in Britain and beyond. Hate crime figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers show that around 50,000 incidents were reported. Many more go unreported. Give the alarmingly high number of reports in Britain it is essential that we are to identify and strategise how to effectively and permanently eradicate the scourge of racism on campuses and in the community

Already, 75% of Britain’s Black communities live in 88 of Britain’s poorest wards. Nearly half of Pakistani and Bangladeshi households are below poverty line. Furthermore, job applications from people with African or Asian sounding names are turned down more often than English sounding ones. Add this to the issue of jobs with current high unemployment rate, Black students are three times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates within six months of graduation and are expected to earn up to 9% less for the same work within five years.

A recent figures from the Ministry of Justice figures found that there has been 70% increased in the number of Black people stopped and search by the police over the last 5 years. Already Black people are seven times more likely to be stopped by the police than white people.

This poster has been one of the most popular materials of the campaign precisely because it embodies the lived experience of young black people.  It is good to hear that Brunel has a large ACS and is a welcoming environment for other liberation groups – however, in our experience, this does not mean Black students do not face oppression off campus, and neither is it the case that every union has such provisions.  The materials of the NUS Black Students Campaign are here for all these unions.

Finally, the premise that ‘white students need not apply’ is a contortion of reality.  Before the creation of the NUS Black students officer, the NUS elected an all-white executive body – our campaign works within the NUS, and with students unions, to address the under-representation of black students that is still apparent in the student movement and beyond.”

Firstly, those of you who follow my twitter will have seen my posts earlier in the day about this. So apologies for reiterating.

At the head of the letter I am informed that “racism, sexism, homophobia and disablism are a reality”. As I stated in my post I was not pretending that racism did not exist. I think I invoked the image of ‘those’ guys in the pub who are borderline offensive with the “country is up the shitpipe” routine. Also, what exactly is ‘disablism’? Since when was this a thing? I understand that people will and do discriminate against those with disabilities but when did this have a label? And such a grammatically unappealing one?

I am also accused of “…a serious abrogation of the entire student community’s responsibility…”. While, again, I state that this article was intended for a Brunel audience, to question the worth of the NUS when it comes saddled with dead-weight liberation campaigns, I am unable to abrogate someone’s responsibility. In fact I cannot abrogate anything, as only an authoritative power can abrogate.

Another line of particular enjoyment is that “…job applications from people with African or Asian sounding names are turned down more often than English sounding ones”.  That’s it. No proof, no case study, no statistic from the London College of Flippity-Flappity. Just a comment to make me feel bad that I am part of a society that will not hire Mohmmad Al-Thingy because John Smith is also available. Mark Twain once said “Get you facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please”. If no shred of scientific study can be used to further the point made, then avoid making your point in a factual way. Avoid making outlandish claims for baying hacks, like me, to pick apart. In a paragraph full of statistics that I am unable to argue with (though I would love to), my eye is instantly drawn to the unsubstantiated.

Finally, at the end I am criticised that my headline “White Students Need Not Apply” is a contortion of the truth. Frankly I would say that, given the evidence of the poster and the demographics is claims to represent, ‘Black Students’ is a contortion of the word ‘Black’…

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