A vote of thanks from the Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion…

As Black History Month closes, the work continues. Patrice Belton shares her thanks for your involvement so far, and announces some upcoming opportunities.

Greetings fellow OU Students, Staff and Association colleagues, 

The proceedings across ‘Black History Month’ 2021, was a delightful, insightful and empowering moment for me (and I hope for yourselves also); and in light of this, I wanted to share with you all my gratitude and acknowledgement, for the credit that you have been in supporting, pursuing and discussing this heritage, hope and happy occasion with (us) as ‘Black, Asian and (other) Minority Ethnic (BAME)’ students. 

I have prepared a 4-minute youtube video to express this fully. 


Black History Month Logo 

At the Association… 

To celebrate this year’s theme for Black History Month – ‘Proud to Be’, and we have provided two reading lists to share the personal stories of Black and Brown people in the UK, which touches on experiences from other countries and continents. One of the reading lists is for our students with children, to help with highlighting the importance of gaining a broader understanding of black history.  

As Black History Month (BHM) has now closed, we at the Association wanted to explicitly highlight that our work and events towards ‘Race Equality’ will continue throughout the academic year. This includes surveying our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Students Group to understand what type of community they want to shape, and how they as students wish to be represented by their Committee and Student Representatives.

Support this: If you are a Black, Asian or (another) Minority Ethnic Student, you can support us on this by becoming a registered member of the BAME Students Group. Once you are a member ‘Take the Survey’ (which will go out to members via email), to share your frank and valid insights about what matters for you as an OU Student. 

Remember, your voice is important and valid; please use it because if you don’t use it other voices will shape the narrative for you!

During the upcoming Student Voice Week, the Association will be partnering with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Students’ Voice Team and OU Departments, to hold several events that open up discussions around the work of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (E D I) and more.

This will include our next E D I Students’ Insights Event (make sure you register!), where I will be hosting once more, to delve into your Student worlds – hoping to hear your voices on all things E D I with a particular focus on what the Association’s values of ‘Integrity, Equality and Inclusivity, Openness, Collaboration, Kindness and Compassion’ mean to you

The full timetable of events are live, and you can register your interests to attend, participate and/or have your say. 

Support this: Show up, stand up, speak up, support, steer and share!

At the OU…  

The University has also said ‘the work will also continue within OU Departments and Staff channels also’ and there are areas where you can directly support or participate, such as: 

Book and films clubs: following the success of the Book and Film Clubs during BHM 2021, the BHM Working Group have decided they will be integrating these into the OU’s ‘business as usual’ and Race Equality efforts, by having a regular (monthly) book and film clubs, to enable Staff and Students to have open and collaborative discussions around ‘Race’, ‘Ethnicity’ and other ‘Fictional topics from Ethnic Minority Creatives’. 

Support this: Attend these sessions once available, share ideas for books or films of interest for future sessions and share the event’s notice with fellow students – all students are welcomed! More details to follow soon…

BAME Staff Podcasts: this is still in the crux of planning so this is more for your information; however, the Chairs of the ‘BME Staff Network’, have started collaborating with BAME Tutors and Staff to discuss topics of academic and social interests (e.g. mental health, pedagogy at the OU etc.), and once they have established the workings around this, I have asked for these to be shared with students and perhaps one day in future students can join in and support these discussions. 

Support this: When the time comes, engage with the content, offer your insights on topics in comments or feedback, get involved where you can!

A PR (and Photo) Opportunity Project in partnership with ‘Alamy Ltd’ the global stock photo company is being developed. To work with OU Students and their families to create portraits that highlight realistic depictions of Distance Learning in visual form, so that everyone who accesses these can see ‘real students doing real study’ as opposed to unrealistic, polished models and ideals of studying online. I’ve asked for the Marcomms Team to share the details of this for students to see that they do matter and that who they are ‘in the everyday context’ is just as important as what they achieve here at the OU. 

Support this: Once this is published on the Hoot, engage with it, share your feedback, ask questions, help them get this right for students with other students’ (constructive) support!] 

Have you thought about what it might be like to appear on TV? Would being on a pre-recorded Student Panel be something that inspires you? As there’s an opportunity here at the OU, for such a role. Please view this broadcast by the ‘Islam Channel‘, to see OU (BAME) Students and Staff discussing ‘study life’. The next TV appearances (will be) truncated through ‘Vox Africa’ and this will be focused on the careers of (Black) African Students and Staff. Presently, they have had quite a few male participants come forward to support but sadly, no female participants. 

Support this: If you are a female, Black, African, studying at the OU, working towards a career and don’t mind being seen on TV(?), please email me (Patrice.belton@open.ac.ukby the 15th of November 2021, to highlight your interest so, that I can help to refer you to the relevant Team, for more information.] 

Lastly, there are always opportunities to support this work more broadly and to become (more) informed, around Race Equality and Ethnicity related matters; please visit the ‘OU’s Race and Ethnicity Hub’ on OpenLearn (which was set up in collaboration with the OU BME Staff Network), to get started and to engage with content, free courses and research from across the OU and Higher Education (HE) sector. 

Support this: Visit the Hub, read and engage with the content, review the content and feedback on elements you believe would be important to include, inform on areas where the information (shared) is not accurately, supportive, or inclusive of BAME voices; help them build and make this resource, effective and relevant as an influential, open and educational tool to use across the wider HE Sector.

Sincerest regards 
Vice President of Equality, Diverysity and Inclusion (VP EDI) 


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