Ahead of the 2021 Guild Elections, News Reporter Harpal Khambay spoke to candidates for the position of Ethnic Minority Students’ Officer
The Ethnic Minority Students’ Officer is one of the part-time officer positions up for grabs in the 2021 Guild Elections. They are responsible for ‘Represent[ing] and campaign[ing] for inclusivity and equal rights of ethnic minority students at UoB and the Guild.’
Harshwardhan Kamble was the only candidate to reply to Redbrick’s offer of an interview; the other candidates did not respond. Also running for this position are: Talent Matambanashe, Ngai Ng (Energy), Manisha Kaur, Jeremy Karoki Njoroge, Shawon Sheikh and Shleena Coulson. To find out more about these candidates and their policies, visit the Guild Elections website.
Harshwardhan Kamble is a second year PhD student, working within the department of electronics and electrical engineering. If elected as Ethnic Minorities Officer, Kamble’s main focus will be to ensure that ethnic minority students feel included in all aspects of university life.
For Kamble, a huge part of this involves extra-curricular activities. Kamble wants to encourage ethnic minority students to take part in societies, believing that this would increase inclusivity and also ensure ‘social and personal development.’ As a member of an ethnic minority himself, Kamble recognises, and can relate to, the issues that ethnic minority students face on a daily basis, which has prompted him to apply for this role. He recognises that ‘strong assertion’ is needed for minority voices to be successfully heard and is willing to provide it.
As well as ensuring that minority voices are heard, another key element of Kamble’s manifesto is the tackling of racism on campus. This reinforces Kamble’s strong desire to ensure that ethnic minorities feel welcome and included in all aspects of university life. Another way that Kamble proposes to do this, is to openly promote cultural events on campus. Events such as this would encourage greater social interaction within the BAME community, and would also allow people of other faiths and cultures to understand each other better.
This feeling of inclusion will also tackle the dropout rate of ethnic minority students, another issue that Kamble is keen to focus on. Kamble noted that many international ethnic minority students usually complete their degree and head back to their home country, citing his friends as examples. Kamble directly attributes this to feelings of exclusion amongst minority students, because they have ‘no proper representation.’ This is something Kamble is keen to fix.
A way in which Kamble seeks to maintain contact with the student body is through liaising with the Guild of Students. In order to keep communication lines open, Kamble wants to make himself available to all groups within the Guild that are run by, and for, ethnic minority students. Kamble believes that by maintaining this constant communication, ethnic minority students will be comfortable coming forward with concerns. This would therefore ensure that minority rights are ‘protected’ and are responded to by the university.
Although Kamble does not have much experience in a representative role, his passion to defend minority rights is evident. Kamble noted that he is happy to speak to figures of authority on issues that matter, and reiterated his ‘assertive’ nature and dedication to representing minority voices ‘at full strength.’ All of Kamble’s policies steer to his overall desire for ethnic minority students to feel more included at the university, and to develop socially as well as academically. In summation, Kamble wishes to ensure that BAME students are treated with the ‘respect and dignity’ that they deserve.
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