- Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths University
- United Kingdom
A huge thank you to everyone who signed and shared! The letter has been sent to Frances Corner the Warden of Goldmsiths. I will update you on its progress.
An open letter from local residents to Goldsmiths University. We write in solidarity with the 472 precarious Goldsmiths staff members, many of whom are Black and POC, set to lose their jobs during a pandemic. We also write in solidarity with Evan Ifekoya and their brave decision to withdraw their labour as the only permanently employed Black member of staff in the Goldsmiths Art department.
This letter calls on Goldsmiths to prove they take racism and injustice seriously and act against it. We, the local community, want proof that Goldsmiths stands in solidarity with the Black and POC staff and students to whom it is indebted. We demand Goldsmiths listen to them and promptly take tangible, substantial action to protect and support them.
You can find further information about the systemic racism at Goldsmiths university here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lxzR4q0HRWvkKu8Eb41VYHGV0EgUd8liOVb2yE_oaXQ/edit?usp=sharing. This document contains articles and information including a link to the Goldsmiths Anti Racist Action (GARA) twitter page, a petition to 'Make Goldsmiths University Art Department Accountable For Systemic Racism’ and a link to Goldsmiths Mutual Aid, providing hardship funds to precarious staff at Goldsmiths whose jobs are at risk due to Covid-19.
Please sign and share widely. This letter will be sent to Frances Corner the Warden of Goldsmiths University on Monday July 20th.
Dear Frances Corner,
We are writing to you as local residents in solidarity with the 472 precarious Goldsmiths staff members, many of whom are Black and POC, set to lose their jobs during a pandemic. We also write in solidarity with Evan Ifekoya and their brave decision to withdraw their labour as the only permanently employed Black member of staff in the Goldsmiths Art department.
We have been motivated by Evan’s open letter (June 15th) and by the recent Guardian article ‘My university plans to lose 500 casual staff – so I'm refusing to mark exams’, written anonymously by a member of Goldsmiths staff (July 1st).
There are three distinct but interrelated issues we want to highlight.
1. The disproportionate impact of cuts to Black and POC staff members at Goldsmiths and the university’s decision to terminate nearly 500 fixed term contracts (FTC).
This decision, made during a pandemic, will overwhelmingly affect Black and POC staff members, who are already most likely to be hardest hit by COVID 19. In the Sociology department all of the lecturers impacted by the termination of FTCs are women of colour.
2. The long term institutional racism and systemic racist practices enacted by Goldsmiths, which have resulted in Black and POC staff members being disproportionately employed on temporary rather than permanent contracts. Within the Art department five out of the six Black and POC staff members are on FTC.
3. The social marginalisation and everyday racism experienced by Black and POC students and staff and a biased curriculum that ignores Black and POC histories and experiences. These issues were highlighted through the 137-day occupation of Deptford Town Hall by students last year, which birthed the Goldsmiths Anti Racist Action campaign (GARA). The GARA, with which we stand in complete solidarity, demanded Goldsmiths combat its institutional racism. Many of the GARA’S demands remain unmet. The university’s decision in 2019 to take out a high court order against the occupation, evidences a lack of genuine and sustained engagement with calls for anti-racist work. At the time of the occupation, Goldsmiths dismissed many of the GARA’s demands. The events of the last few months have acutely shown the urgency of these demands and the necessity for Goldsmiths to meet them.
As members of your local community, we are deeply concerned by these issues. Goldsmiths has a long-standing relationship with us; running public events on-campus, volunteering with and donating to local charities. Furthermore, many Goldsmiths staff, students and alumni live in the area. The university’s termination of nearly 500 FTCs and refusal to acknowledge and dismantle its systemic racism is a community issue. These actions are harmful and directly impact the economic, emotional and mental wellbeing of many individual residents and the community as a whole.
Your institution presents and capitalises off an image of diversity and progressive thinking. You betray this image when you do not support Black and POC staff and students from who you profit socially, culturally and financially. New Cross is an area with a rich history of anti-racist and social activism. Goldsmiths attempts to align itself with these progressive politics. However, when this is performed through images and words alone, rather than action, Goldsmiths fails our community. We reject performative solidarity. As members of your local community we want, need and demand more from you.
We, your local community, call on you to prove that you take racism and injustice seriously and act against it. We want proof that you stand in solidarity with the Black and POC staff and students to whom your institution is indebted. We demand that you listen to them and promptly take tangible, substantial action to protect and support them.
The Open Letter From Local Residents to Goldsmiths University petition to Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths University was written by Emily Woolley and is in the category Justice at GoPetition.