UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Black Lives Matter

11 June 2020

UCL portico

Dear students and colleagues in the MAPS faculty, 

Atrocities against Black people have been happening for far too long and continuously to the point that it seems to have been normalised.  We condemn anti-black racism. We condemn all forms of racism. Black students and colleagues in our Faculty, and UCL, are in pain and exhausted with the continuous battle to be seen and heard. 

To all the Black students and colleagues in the MAPS Faculty who feel affected by the recent events, we would like you to know that we stand with you, in your pain, and your frustration. 

To supervisors, tutors and colleagues: if a student or a colleague approaches you indicating their exhaustion and pain with current events, please listen carefully. A list of resources is shown at the end of this message, to support you in these conversations.

We have evidence that institutional racism happens in universities across the UK and UCL is not the exception.  We believe we have a collective responsibility towards challenging structural racism and that a lot more can be done and must be done by the MAPS Faculty, its departments and its institutes.  We are committed to carrying out and supporting the hard work needed. 

Some of the recent actions at the Faculty level have included the following:

We created the initiative “Take bold action” to support cross-departmental actions that tackle inclusion of under-represented groups. As part of this, we supported an event hosted by UCL Mathematics in February 2020 - “Black Role Models in STEM.” While the event was originally aimed to encourage and support Black undergraduate students in Mathematics, thanks to the support of the MAPS Faculty the event was extended to Black undergraduates in Physics from universities across London.

We have been running a pilot of the MAPS Caring Fund which has now been adapted to the circumstances of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This means the fund will provide some financial assistance to carers facing extraordinary challenges in these times. We have evidence that some of the carers facing disproportional negative experiences are colleagues from Black and ethnic minority groups. We hope the fund goes some way to address that imbalance, please apply and pass the link on to any staff member or research student within MAPS who may be in need of it.

We have made a pledge to tackle harassment, bullying and unacceptable behaviours in MAPS and this includes tackling racial harassment. A video reflecting our messaging of collective responsibility is available to watch. Each of us have a part to play in eradicating this behaviour from our society.

We recognise that these actions alone are not enough and that we have a long to go way to dismantle structural racism and to tackle effectively the racial biases in academic communities but we will keep working on it. If you would like to help us, please do not hesitate to get in touch

In the meantime, please find below a brief list of resources.

With care and solidarity,

Alexandra Olaya-Castro, MAPS vice-Dean (EDI)

What departments can do
UCL Advancing Race Equality Toolkit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/human-resources/sites/human-resources/files/toolkit.pdf

Read our pledges and hold us accountable

Join the RaceMatters@UCL network

Participate in consultation
UCL will be consulting with Black staff and students via a Town Hall meeting to listen more, learn, and inform actions. If you would like to register your interest in receiving details of this event, you can do so using this online form.

Hear the students
Read the UCL Student’s Union website providing resources for allyship against racism http://studentsunionucl.org/articles/black-lives-matter-what-solidarity-really-looks-like

Analyse the evidence:
Leading Routes report discussing the barriers disadvantaging Black PhD students’ access to research council funding with recommendations https://leadingroutes.org/the-broken-pipeline

The career experiences and strategies of UK Black female professors https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/10075/Staying-Power/pdf/UCU_Rollock_February_2019.pdf

Educate yourself about racism