Leeds School of Medicine criticised over lack of diversity on equality and inclusivity panel

Hundreds of medical students signed an open letter claiming the University of Leeds' School of Medicine has failed to respond to issues facing the BAME community.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 9:42 am
Leeds School of Medicine Image: Google

A total of 580 current and former students signed the wide-ranging letter, which was addressed to the faculty of medicine and health.

The letter raised a number of concerns about racism in the UK and the disproportionate impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on BAME members of the community.

The letter dated June 8 stated: "We were also extremely disheartened to see a recent tweet (on March 9) by the Dean of the Medical School showcasing an ‘inclusivity panel’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"This image served as a prime example and reminder of a lack of progress with regards to inclusivity and diversity.

"Not one panel member appeared to be from a BAME background, reflective of the society we live in.

"It is not providing a platform to the voices of the BAME community, many of whom already feel silenced and marginalised.

"How is a panel, who in all likelihood have never experienced a barrier to inclusivity based on their ethnicity, supposed to educate and help reform a system to become more inclusive?

"The efforts to reach BAME students were not made by the faculty. They were made by individual medical students. It is not the duty of students to be reaching out to their peers.

"It is the faculty responsibility to be seeking, and learning from it's BAME students.

"Racism to the Medical School may seem like a history belonging to your students, but it is very much a current, relevant and terrifying experience for BAME students and staff today.

"We are therefore requesting that we be heard, and the Medical School reflects and addresses our concerns immediately."

Professor Mark Kearney, Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, said : “We met with Mariyah (Bashir) and Hansa (Iqbal) to listen to their concerns and address the points they made. We felt the meeting was constructive and helpful in moving us forward, and together we wrote the reply to their letter and all the co-signatories.

“Since then, we have held helpful meetings with the Leeds Medic’s Afro Caribbean Society and they have shared their experiences and recommendations.

“We are moving quickly to address this priority issue, including creating a Student Council to take forward students’ recommendations.

“Not all the students invited to the meeting in March were able to attend and were therefore not pictured in the tweet.

“I am proud of our students for their courage in speaking out. We are committed to eliminating racism and racial discrimination to ensure a positive and inclusive experience for all students from this point forward.”