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Race Equality Steering Group

Terms of Reference

Aims of the group are to:

  • Raise awareness internally and externally of race equality and cultural diversity at UCL.
  • Work with the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team to identify potential areas of concern in the university’s policies and practices.
  • Develop practical solutions to address areas of concern.
  • Develop expertise and knowledge of race equality issues among group members.
  • Work with the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team and the Race, Religion and Belief Champion to advise senior management on ways to promote race equality at UCL.
  • Represent the views of the body of black and minority ethnic staff at UCL.
  • Provide the wider network with opportunities for social and professional networking
  • Work with external organisations, such as the Equality Challenge Unit, to promote race equality in Higher Education.

The Objectives of the group will be to:

  • Promote equality for black and minority ethnic (BME) staff and students through involvement and consultation on the university’s plans, strategies, policies, organizational change exercises and guidance.
  • To act as a channel for communication and consultation between black and minority ethnic staff and senior management, via the E&D Team.
  • To influence UCL on employment issues for black and minority ethnic staff, in particular recruitment and career progression.
  • To support the implementation of the university’s Race Equality Action Plan.
  • To work with the key stakeholders and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Tem in reviewing information which suggests any direct and indirect forms of discrimination faced by black and minority ethnic staff.
  • To develop online resources for members.
  • Assist in the coordination of events and activities relevant to race equality and cultural diversity at UCL.

Read more about membership and expectations of members, the group's activities and the responsibilities of the co-chairs and the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team in supporting the group here.

Members of the Race Equality Steering Group

Sarah Alleemudder

Sarah Alleemudder

I'm Sarah and I've worked in UCL for many years in different roles. I am now the Finance Team Manager for the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences. I'm also very involved in my union, Unison, and am the Equalities Officer. As such, I've represented members and experienced at first hand, inequalities due to race, which some would deny exist in an institution like ours. Being part of the RESG, makes me feel that, at least, I am contributing to the work that would eventually erase race discrimination and establish equality across the board.

Jess Bharj

Jess Bharj

I have been at UCL for over 25 years and started working in the Department of Medical Physics as IT Support Officer. I now work as Lead Software Tester in ISD.
I joined the Race Equality Steering Group for a number of reasons but mainly that BME staff were not recognised for their work and contribution and how this could be promoted within our department and UCL as a whole. 

Being a member of this group I have seen that progress is being made and with the dedication of all the members I hope this will continue. It is also very enjoyable to be part of this group and the wider network.

Caroline Bressey

Caroline Bressey

I arrived at UCL in 1998 to begin research for my PhD on 'Forgotten Geographies: Historical Geographies of Black Women in Victorian and Edwardian London'. I am now a Reader in the Department of Geography, teaching on aspects of London and undertaking research in historical and cultural geography. I've been a member of the Race Equality Steering Group since 2012. I joined the RESG to be more aware of BME issues at UCL and because I think there is the potential for UCL to support changes in research paths on the Black presence in Britain, equalities policy,  and public engagement with issues of concern to BME staff and students - which effect all members of the university and the city where we work. This network is one of the ways we can work to achieve some of these changes.

Marcia Jacks

Marcia Jacks

I am Co-Chair of the Race Equality Steering Group and have been at UCL for over 15 years, my current role is Institute Manager for Women's Health. I have been part of the RESG group since its inception and feel I can offer my own experience into the group. As a senior manager I can influence my colleagues both junior and senior and can help to bring about awareness of issues that affect ethnic minorities and make suggestions on how inequalities can be addressed at work, not just for BME staff but other groups too.

Maki Kimura

Maki Kimura

I'm Maki, Teaching Fellow in Gender and Politics. Before joining UCL, I undertook many projects as a researcher exploring the experience of black and minority ethnic students and staff in universities including 'The experience of black and minority ethnic staff in higher education in England' funded by the Equality Challenge Unit. Through these projects, I have learnt that it is important that universities acknowledge that some BME students and members of staff go through negative experiences in their institutions. While it poses a lot of challenges in the area of policy and practice, I still believe an intersectional approach to race equality is vital.

Johanna Novales

Johanna Novales

I’m the Executive Assistant in the Engineering Faculty Office, where I’ve worked since starting at UCL in 2011. Among my duties, I serve as a Dignity at Work Advisor and help coordinate the equalities and diversity work in our faculty. I joined the RESG because I think it’s crucial that work to address racial inequality – as with all equalities work -- is embedded at all levels of the organisation, among both Professional Services and academic staff.

Ayo Olatunji

Ayo Olatunji

My name is Ayo Olatunji, I have completed 2 years of Medicine at UCL and I have interrupted my 6 year course to take on the role of BME officer. As a Black Muslim I have no choice but to be politically engaged and have been doing anti-racist activism for over a year now.

As the BME officer I represent a large number of students on campus which means I represent their political and welfare needs. This year my priorities will be facilitating campaigns and conversation around racism and islamophobia on an individual and institutional level.

Kamna Patel

Kamna Patel

I'm a Lecturer in The Bartlett Development Planning Unit and have a research interest in and ethical commitment to applying postcolonial thinking to development studies. I consider my membership to the RESG as part of a professional dedication to racial equality at UCL and the production of anti-racist scholarship by helping to bring an awareness to the role race plays in academia and action initiatives that can augment change in the university.

Prince Saprai

Prince Saprai

I am Prince, and I joined the Faculty of Laws at UCL as a Lecturer in 2009. Before that, I taught at Warwick and Oxford. My research is in the fields of private law and legal theory. I have been a member of the Race Equality Steering Group since 2012.

Shafaq Sikandar

Shafaq Sikander

I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the Wolfson Institute of Biomedical Research and I joined the Race Equality Group to help implement progress on equality and diversity issues at UCL. My research often involves input from international peers, where the diversity of experience and backgrounds is invaluable for maximising productivity and progress.

Providing equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender, race or religion is also the foundation of UCL, which is why I feel engaged to help ensure that diversity is adequately reflected in all student and staff levels of this academic setting in a global city.

Vladimir Smith-Mesa

Vladimir Smith-Mesa

My name is Vladimir Smith-Mesa. I have been at UCL for over 16  years, working for UCL-SSEES Library as a cataloguer. I hold a UCL PhD degree. I am the founder of the UCL Festival of the Moving Image (FoMI), an annual event, which is currently organised by the UCL Film society. In 2007, in the inaugural year of the festival,  I had the opportunity to work in collaboration with Anti-slavery international.  From the experience, I gained  a greater understanding of the  current problems of slavery issues in the UK and abroad, including human trafficking.  I joined the Race Equality Steering Group for a number of reasons. I would like to work towards the implementation of cultural awareness training sessions as part of UCL professional development strategy. I would also like to see more of the implementation of practical programmes, academic courses, workshops and events in order to promote equality, for recruitment and career progression and the creation of academic scholarships for black and minority ethnic staff and students.

Ijeoma Uchegbu

Ijeoma Uchegbu

I'm Ijeoma and I'm co-chair of the RESG. I'm a Professor of Pharmaceutical Nanoscience within the UCL School of Pharmacy and Pro-Vice Provost for Africa and the Middle East. I chose to join the RESG and the Race Equality Charter Mark's Self Assessment Team as I would like to ensure that UCL becomes a colour blind institution, where all races enjoy an optimum experience and see UCL as a place within which they can fulfil their full potential.

Paulette Williams

Paulette Williams

I work in the Office of the Vice Provost (Education and Student Affairs) as the Senior Projects Manager for Learning Outcomes. I am responsible for a range of projects related to improving outcomes for students including a major project addressing the BME attainment gap. I joined the RESG because I value equality in education and believe that BME students and staff at UCL should feel their contributions are valued, that they belong and that they are supported to excel here.