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Black History Month 2021: MDX reveals how it is making the university even more inclusive

Reverse mentoring, a new online reporting function for hate crimes and decolonising the curriculum are among the positive developments

MDX students

A number of initiatives were launched this time last year to make Middlesex University an even more inclusive place for students and staff from all cultural backgrounds and identities.

MDX is proud to be one of the UK’s most diverse universities but recognised that issues emerging from the Black Lives Matter protests were of “critical importance” to its community and wanted to guarantee lasting improvements.

Professor Nic Beech, Vice-Chancellor, said equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is central to the University’s new strategy over the next decade and that they want “inclusion that values and learns from diversity and we change because of that learning”.

There are a multitude of initiatives and debates with differing views and concerns but what unites us all is the desire to create a safe, just and welcoming community where everyone can be who they are," Anna Kyprianou, Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI.

As the world celebrates Black History Month, MDX is delighted to reveal positive EDI developments that include:

  • MDX is applying for the Race Equality Charter (REC) mark to systematically identify institutional and cultural barriers facing Black, Asian and ethnic minority staff and students.  The REC self-assessment team who are driving this work brings together colleagues from all corners of the University and they are currently analysing existing data and data from a staff survey which is live during most of Black History Month.
  • Reverse mentoring has also been introduced which sees students of different cultural backgrounds and identities reverse mentor members of senior leadership. The project is due to restart in October and there is currently a call for students to reverse mentor across LGBTQ+, Black, Asian or other ethnic minority backgrounds, Faith, Disability and Gender.
  • An online reporting function ‘Report.It.To.Stop.It’ was launched in January in partnership with the MDX Students Union (MDXSU) which enables any student to report, both with their contact details or anonymously, any incident of hate (such as racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, islamophobia) or gender-based violence (such as sexual assault, domestic violence, online abuse).  MDX and MDXSU is partnering with the Barnet Network of Reporting Centres during Hate Crime Awareness Week to encourage the reporting of hate crime not just on campus but in the wider community also.
  • Significant progress has been made in efforts to decolonise the curriculum through a University-wide initiative. The project has included research into the  Black student experience undertaken by the MDXSU; a safe space forum; a No Home for Hate campaign as well as a practical tool kit and resources.
  • MDX has also set up an anti-racism staff network and developed a range of resources to support discussions about race and racism which are available to students and staff.
  • The University has also been harnessing and amplifying the experiences of students from minoritised and marginalised groups in this year’s Agents of Change competition, with an exhibition of shortlisted entries due in November. It has welcomed diverse entries where students have addressed themes, such as colourism, white privilege and race and mental health.

Anna Kyprianou, Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI, said: “MDX is a large and complex organisation with a broad range of key players, many of whom are actively and passionately engaged with EDI issues.

“There are a multitude of initiatives and debates with differing views and concerns but what unites us all is the desire to create a safe, just and welcoming community where everyone can be who they are.

“’Striving to create a fairer, just world and embedding EDI in all we do’ is one of our community principles helping  us to shape our culture, who we are and how we get there.

“Sadly, inequalities are an everyday facet of our society and our University is not immune from this.

“Having said that we have openly committed to systematically investigate inequality in all its forms across our diverse institution to acknowledge, understand and tackle structural inequalities that affect both individuals and groups.

“This means recognising how we got here and what needs to be done to ensure equity, inclusion and belonging for all but particularly for those who are marginalised, under-represented and excluded.”

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