The Guardian: Black academics bear brunt of university work on race equality
By Harriet Swain
“Earlier this year, Maxine Thomas-Asante asked her university if she could pause her work supporting black, Asian and minority ethnic students. She was running for office at her students’ union, finishing coursework and preparing for her final exams. “I had to say I’m going to take a break.”
For the past two years, Thomas-Asante, co-president for democracy and education at Soas University of London student union, has attended meetings, panel discussions and focus groups, created mentoring schemes, organised events, listened to the problems experienced by BAME students and liaised between them and academic staff.
At first, she did so voluntarily, but it is now a paid role after she was advised by a BAME staff member not to work for free. While she loves doing the job and values the way the university involves students in addressing the attainment gap, she says it’s a lot of psychological pressure. “Just because it’s paid doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult. It’s an immense amount of work that you cannot do alone. It’s not enough always for universities to say the work is being done because students are doing it,” she says.”