Setting a Precedent for a Survivor Led Institution

Building Bridges, Breaking Silences: The university reforming a community of change and empowerment.

Lewi El Hawary
22nd February 2024
As the Chair of Scrutiny and Disciplinary Committee at Newcastle University, I am taking a transformative approach with the hope of addressing issues of power and imbalance within our community.

I believe we should move from taking statements from victims and performative activism, to a path towards a survivor-led institution that prioritises the safety and well-being of all. Especially, those who belong to marginalised groups who too often face the brunt of discriminatory and harmful behaviour.

The call for change stems from acknowledging the painful realities that many people face within the university community. Instances of harassment, discrimination and abuse disproportionately impact students from marginalised backgrounds, highlighting systemic power dynamics that leave them vulnerable and unheard.

These issues cannot simply be brushed aside; they demand a decisive and proactive response.  

My goal this year is to adopt a two-pronged approach when on the panel of disciplinary, or scrutinising NUSU issues: championing a survivor-led framework and bolstering support for minority groups. This is not just about responding to incidents that have occurred, but fundamentally building safer and more equitable environment.  

At the core of this vision lies the empowerment of survivors of any vitriol and minority based abuse, systemic change must occur. This includes targeted awareness campaigns, increased training programmes, enhanced support services specifically designed for the needs of all groups, specialist services to deal with religious hate crime, such as Islamophobia, and diversifying student involvement.

Finally, I recommend a dedicated full-time specialist that can work with the Executives of both the University and NUSU to recommend real change, that will be felt by all marginalised people – from sexual violence survivors to hate crime survivors.

Albeit not an exhaustive list, it’s a blueprint for action.  

Building a survivor-centred, equitable university will require continuous dialogue and collaboration, but it must happen now, not later. Reporting issues should be heavily emphasised by the University and NUSU, and to make it more accessible should be a priority.

The Survivor Led motion put in place by our Welfare and Equalities Officer demonstrates that people are trying to make change, but it requires mobilisation of people! Get involved, make yourself heard and make change. 

By Lewi El Hawary- Chair of Scrutiny, NUSU.

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