I am an English Lit MA student at Durham studying themes of decolisation with literature and the idea of gender. I am rooting for the Culture Commission and the vision it maintains, which is that of locating and deconstructing toxicity in our immediate environments in University. I am here to center ‘Durhamness’ and ‘Durham culture’ as experienced and even produced, by minoritised students. This commission is such a creative endeavour because it has become a channel for students to envision and act on what a post-BLM Civil Rights Movement Durham student community could be like.
I have been the co-president for Durham Womxn’s Association two years in a row now and have organised many discussions and events centralising the experiences of minoritised womxn in UK and the so-called developing world. I agreed to be one of the Culture Commissioners because the approach to map out how the ‘dominant’ culture happens and propagates itself in the student community to maintain systemic oppression made a lot of sense. The ‘dominant’ culture’s unique intersections of patriarchal, racial and class privilege has been extensively discussed, it makes up the fabric of our everyday-shared spaces in this uni, from classes, to assemblies, and all the online spaces. These spaces simultaneously also theorise a lot about marginalised identities- BAME womxn’s socio-political positions have been read as ‘doubly’ and ‘triple’ colonised figures in theory. Somewhere while discussing them as academia subjects in texts, people have forgotten to understand their lived experiences around us. Somehow a huge dismissal of their needs and concerns is still happening. Minority ethnic womxn staff have experienced gross disrespect as the Respect Commission revealed, and to some extent I believe, this is true for the student community too. I am looking forward to lead focus groups that bring together the experiences and perspectives of all marginalised students and let them set the narratives of cultural change.