OUSU to hold diversity conference

The ‘I, too, am Oxford’ campaign is to be extended after receiving funding from OUSU to hold a conference on race issues.

The motion to donate £400 to fund ‘BME Conference: Dissidence in an Era of Diversity’ was passed unanimously by OUSU Council last Wednesday. Both Pembroke and Wadham had already agreed to donate towards the cost of the conference.

The motion was proposed by graduate student Brian Kwoba, and seconded by undergraduates Jahnavi Emmanuel and Anu Henriques.

Henriques explained to the Council that the conference will aim to provide a voice to BME students in Oxford, and meet popular demand to continue the discourse encouraged by the ‘I, too, am Oxford’ project.

Kwoba added that the project was very helpful in supporting the Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality, and inspiring a shift in the University’s commitment to discussing race issues.

He also stated a wish to move on from the controversy over ‘We Are All Oxford’, a counter-project which claimed ‘I, too, am Oxford’ misrepresented experiences at the University.

A third-year History student told The Oxford Student: “I became involved in the original ‘I, too’ campaign because I felt it was important to discuss the experience of being a BME student in a relatively ethnically and culturally homogeneous environment like Oxford.

“For me, the basic problems are twofold. Firstly, because there are fewer BME people in Oxford, BME students experience moments of racial tension and prejudice here that one wouldn’t expect to experience in a more diverse environment.

“For example, in a group meeting at the beginning of this term, my moral tutor ticked me off as the only other black Historian in my college while checking attendance.

“Secondly, because there are fewer BME people in Oxford, other people feel more uncomfortable discussing such moments, I assume because they feel they’re being accused of something that they don’t notice.

“The original campaign attempted to highlight the first problem, but became embroiled in the controversy over the second problem. I think the forum is an attempt to refocus on the first problem in a constructive and educative way.” 

 ‘BME Conference: Dissidence in an Era of Diversity’ will take place on the 24th May at Lady Margaret Hall.