EDI Collaborations: Surrey Embracing Ethnic Diversity (SEED) Network x WOKE Student Society
On Thursday 23 February 2023, the Surrey Embracing Ethnic Diversity (SEED) staff network collaborated with student debating society, WOKE, to host an evening of discussion and shared experience centred around race, ethnicity and culture.
The SEED Network was created in 2020 as a safe space for University staff and postgraduate researchers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Creating opportunities for members to discuss race-related topics and share lived experiences is one of the network’s key objectives. It, therefore, seemed like a perfect match for SEED to partner with the student society, WOKE Surrey, which is a safe space for ethnic minority students to debate a variety of themes, often with a racial and cultural angle.
The session followed WOKE’s regular structure of two challenging questions and a light-hearted topic to end the evening. The topics tackled during this evening were:
- How do we solve the awarding gap factors in education?
- “Where are you really from?”: Can we ever truly be seen as truly British, and should we want to be?
- Who is the most influential on the UK culture: Caribbeans, Africans or Asians?
We had a variety of opinions and contributions throughout the evening voiced by a range of students from different disciplines and ethnic backgrounds complemented by the same from the staff members in attendance. This event provided an invaluable opportunity for the sharing of insights and knowledge between staff and students and brought forward the shared experiences as well as the distinct challenges for each group. Students were able to raise valuable feedback and new points to the SEED network, some members of which are directly involved in the work that effects change for these students. Staff were also able to share their wisdom and works that are in the pipeline as we consistently strive to improve student experience.
I found the WOKE x SEED event very empowering as it is comforting to have a safe space around people who understand my experience and who even challenge me on some of my ideas.Olivia Omololu (WOKE - UG Student)
The WOKE & SEED event was not only informative but an excellent opportunity to mutually identify issues of concern and beneficial experiences. It was great to hear the WOKE representatives' ideas and views as well as them being open to SEED representative perspectives. Moreover, we found several issues that were common to both groups which can aid in driving similar network/association objectives to enhance experiences and wider university cultural change, where needed. A wonderful event!Dr Janet Ramdeo, Lecturer in Higher Education (Inclusive Education), Programme Director for Surrey Open Pathway.
The evening was hugely beneficial for both parties and we are looking forward to similar future events to keep that all important dialogue between staff and students alive and to continue to share inter-generational experiences of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic community as we expand and strengthen our networks.