On 31st October 2017, approximately 200 students and several staff members converged outside the Senate House in a rally to show support for the decolonisation of Cambridge University, as well as solidarity with CUSU Women’s Officer Lola Olufemi after being targeted in the Mail and the Telegraph. Read the student demands in full here.
The organisers’ call for support read as follows:
In the face of racialised misinformation about the Decolonise the Curriculum campaigns at Cambridge, and the racist-misogynist backlash against Lola Olufemi, the CUSU Women’s Officer who co-wrote the ‘Decolonise the English Faculty’ open letter, we call on students and faculty to show up in public declaration of their support for the goal of decolonising the university.
There are numerous ongoing attempts to decolonise various faculties, but there needs to be a university-wide display of support for the creative peseverence and exhausting labour of those who have been involved – a display that should also go on into concrete action and continued support.
We ask, particularly, that white students and faculty come and put their bodies in the way of the right-wing vitriol directed towards POC decolonising organisers, to disrupt the right-wing media’s images of these demands as ‘marginal’ and ‘divisive’. Come and stand for what we know: that any hope of deep liberation of the university must centre the project of decolonisation.
Cambridge Defend Education, FLY, the CUSU BME Campaign, Critical Theory and Practice and Class Act are organising this rally in the strong belief that what we teach and learn has profound political impact, and that systems of power have great influence on what and how we teach and learn. An uncritical reproduction of ‘the canon’, a failure to examine material in relation to contexts of colonialism, neo-colonialism and white supremacy, and a refusal to take seriously (or to continue to treat as ‘marginal’) the brilliant work of many non-white writers and scholars all feed into very real and violent systems of domination today. We also believe that knowledge that excludes the contributions of the majority of the world, and assumes that the contributions of ‘the West’ can be undersood in isolation from some of the most important political, economic and cultural processes in history, is shallow knowledge. We are not for violent, shallow knowledge.