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CASE Europe 2024: Revisiting Universities’ Response to Black Lives Matter

by Osaro Otobo | Sep 11, 2023 | People & Culture

I was so delighted to be in Edinburgh to deliver two sessions at the CASE Europe Annual Conference (CEAC) 2023 with my fellow Halpin consultant Lenrick Greaves. The sun was out in full force, and we were surrounded by friendly people all eager to learn, share best practice and connect. I was at CEAC last year in Glasgow as an exhibitor with Halpin, so it was lovely to experience it this year as a speaker.

Over the past few years at Halpin we have worked on important research projects relating to the experiences of Black lives in the higher education sector. It is something I’m very proud of and I feel it is important to keep anti-Black racism at the top of the agenda. Both of my CEAC 2023 sessions focused on the research work we’re doing in this area.

Key Halpin Black Lives Matter reports

In 2022, Living Black at University was published and looked at the lived experiences of Black students in accommodation, presenting recommendations on how to support them. This Black-led research resulted in a Commission being created by Unite Students to respond to the findings and recommendations at a national level. In 2020, I authored UK Universities’ Responses to Black Lives Matter which assessed work in the sector and gave recommendations on how the sector could undertake anti-racist work. It is great to know that both reports are still being used to improve practices in HEIs and beyond.

Integrated Advancement & Anti-racism

At CEAC 2023, I delivered a session with Lenrick about the reports mentioned above, as well as brand new research we are undertaking. We are revisiting how universities responded to Black Lives Matter, three years on, to see if there has been any progress and if there are any new learnings to be shared. We also delivered a breakfast roundtable on “How Can Integrated Advancement Help Universities to be Anti-Racist in Practice?”, with attendees from the UK and mainland Europe. Many thanks to the CASE Multicultural Network for asking us to deliver it.

Anti-racism work is for everyone

Often when we think about EDI, or more specifically anti-racism work in HEIs, that work may be discussed in EDI departments, Board level and university leadership team level. Other university departments tend to be forgotten about; some may feel anti-racism work has nothing to do with them and their team, and some may want to help but just don’t know how they fit into an overall strategy. That’s why it was so important for us to bring this topic to CEAC 2023. Advancement can play a critical role in pushing forward the anti-racism work of an institution, and in our session we gave practical tips and examples of what that could look like.

Take action

It is not too late to get involved in our research. Stay connected with us to hear how you can get involved with our revisiting UK universities’ responses to Black Lives Matter – three years on research:

  • We have some webinars planned; one will be a recap of our CEAC session so you can hear about the role that integrated advancement can play, and one will be a webinar to launch our new report.
  • We will also be conducting interviews and focus groups in October – we want to uplift Black voices, and we also want to hear from people who are doing work in this area.
  • We currently have a survey out so please share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you – whether you are part of an institution as a student or staff member, or whether you are outside of that space as a campaigner, charity leader, alumni etc. – all thoughts are welcome.

Halpin can help you with whatever EDI issues your institution may be facing. Find out more on our People page. If you are seeking expert consultancy contact us to find out how we can help.