“Starting a conversation that never ends….”
The BAME Community Champions was an initiative created to address the attainment gap between ethnic minority students and non-ethnic minority students in the Law School. Its aim was to encourage BAME students to apply to top firms and companies and also to respond to complaints that many BAME students have felt marginalised in the Law School and that their needs were not being met. The BAME Community Champions applied for this role due to personal desires to help address these needs.
Through the first semester, careers events were organised for BAME students in the Law School. Examples of these events include an application workshop hosted by Gowling WLG trainees, a commercial awareness workshop with Eversheds Sutherland and a BAME insight evening into the Civil Service Fast Stream. Through these events, students were able to meet lawyers and to find out what it takes to get a job in a top firm. It was important to shatter any illusions of a ‘lawyer-type’ and to encourage students to visualise themselves working at these firms.
To tackle the issue of inclusion in the Law School, the BAME Champions decided to host a discussion event entitled ‘Starting Conversation: Race in the Law School. The aim of this event was to create an open environment in which students felt comfortable to share their experiences. At the event, lecturers sat on a panel and in the crowd, and students had an opportunity to ask them questions and to express their own views on matters of inclusion, the current curriculum and welfare provision. The event was eye-opening for everyone who attended, and the shared experiences of students highlighted the need for continued change in welfare and education in the Law School.
One issue that particularly stood out was concerning the provision of welfare. Many students expressed that they did not feel like they could approach or make use of the welfare system; mainly due to their cultural differences and backgrounds not being understood by welfare tutors. Other students highlighted concerns about a lack of racial discussion in the curriculum and some students recounted upsetting stories about their experiences in seminar groups and with personal tutors. A full report can be found below.
We view it as essential that this conversation carries on. Real change needs to be implemented in the Law School so that it could be a truly inclusive environment for all students. This change has already begun with works taking place on the development of a new module called ‘Race and the Law’. The BAME Community initiative will continue in order to provide continuous advocacy for BAME students. It will become a more established committee and there has already been interest in the role. Lastly, we want there to be a constant conversation in the Law School pushing for change.
Access to the full report on the discussion event: 24th October Discussion Report