On Tuesday the 14th there will be a picketing of the Nottingham University Student Council. The picket’s focus will be in support of the motion made by Nsikan Edung, the SU President, the motion will be calling for a vote of no confidence in Craig Cox. Cox the Union’s Education officer has been the subject of controversy amoungst the student body since he held up a poster saying Bring Back Slavery at an NUS event during the summer.
Since the start of term a growing number of students have campaigned for the removal of Cox from his postion. And over the past few weeks, letters addressed to voting members of the student union have been signed by a large number of the student body. These letters encourgage the representatives to support the Mr. Edung’s motion. One student involved in the campaign explained “I’ve been telling students that historically Union’s are supposed to protect their members from racism. And whether an invidual holds these views is one thing, but he’s supposed to be a representative of the univeristy and all of it’s students. Which is clearly something he can not do.”
This campaign is running from the same building as the Free Hich stall, taken together issues of the institutional racisim within the University are highlighted. In the FreeHich campaign you have an Algerian Activist and a leading member of the Muslim community within the University on the other hand you have a young white man who last year was the leader of the Students Conservative club. The former was betrayed by the university, and has yet to be offered an official apology, the latter has been protected by the University’s silence.
Questions have also arisen over racist beliefs amoungst the student body, and whether Cox’s actions have highlighted the fact that the majority of the university are white and middle class, whose contact with people of other races and religions has been mostly via media stereotypes. One student emphasised this point by suggesting that whilst he himself had not previously experienced racism from other students prior to his involvement in this campaingn, he had over the last few weeks encoutered a number of students who had expressed ignorance of issues surrounding racism. This ignorance had included, but was not limited to the legacy of black slavery and the ways in which both the university and western europe had benefited from the transatlantic slave trade. He and others did however comment upon the number of students who showed interest in learning more and questioning their own assumptions. This campaign, in conjunction with the Free Hich campaign has helped open up a physical space and a dialogue within the university about the meanings and connotations of race and racial discrimination. Those who wish to become a part of this dialogue are encouraged to attend the numerous Black History month events occuring across the city throughout October, as well joining the campaign in their picket on Tuesday the 14th.