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Goldsmiths students occupy building amid accusations the uni celebrates slave owners

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Goldsmiths students occupied Deptford Town Hall after a candidate had her campaign material vandalised.

Hamna Imran, who ran for Education Officer, had her posters vandalised with 'Wote Hamna' mocking her accent. The incident was reported as a hate crime by the candidate.

Protestors allege that the university initially did not take any action and delayed access to CCTV footage. Since the incident, Hamna lost the election.

Goldsmiths students called for a demonstration on Tuesday afternoon to demand action against racism towards students and precariously-employed staff, which escalated into an occupation around 5pm.

Thereafter, protestors seized the Council Chamber and taped signs criticising Goldsmiths across doors. 

The signs criticised the university for 'celebrating slave owners' and not caring about Hamna.

Security subsequently attempted to prevent access to the building, initially disallowing additional students and bags of food into the building. 

Later into the evening, both students and food were allowed through, but access in and out was thereafter restricted.

Security also blocked off a fire exit with a grill door, preventing students from entering or leaving via this exit.

Goldsmiths Students' Union Welfare and Diversity Officer Mona Mounir and Campaigns and Activities Officer Joe Leam participated in the occupation.

They joined in a small meeting to set demands and discuss student issues.

Following negotiations between the Goldsmiths senior management team and the student officers, the university promised an inquiry into the incidents reported by Hamna.

They also agreed to look into mandatory anti-racist training for staff in collaboration with the UCU and students' union.

Students continued to occupy the building, unsatisfied with the initial demands. They prepared banners and placards for further protests.

In their statement, the occupiers promised to protest 'until Senior Management show that they take institutional racism seriously.'

They wrote: 'This does not mean investigating the [one] incident involving Hamna and considering it a job well-done. It means material and actionable commitment that examines the root causes of its prevalence at Goldsmiths.'

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths, University of London, said:

'Having considered the issues raised by the protesters we are taking a number of steps to build on our existing support for the 40% of our students who identify as black, Asian or ethnic minority.

'Steps include establishing clearer protocols for our hate crime reporting processes and developing a mandatory training package for all student-facing staff on issues of diversity and race awareness.

'Goldsmiths has also announced a significant new investment in student support services, with £100,000 to be spent between now and August on additional specialist mental health and wellbeing staff.

'We recognise that there is more work to do in this area and hope that accelerating our planned work and announcing these new measures demonstrates our commitment to improving the experiences and outcomes of our BAME students.'

More to follow

Image credit: Robert Liow




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