Following the discovery of fascist graffiti in Guild, student groups united to rally against discrimination, hatred, and violence

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Images by Ellie Keiller

At 12.00 on Thursday 23rd March, University of Birmingham (UoB) students gathered around the Poynting Building’s picnic benches to stand in solidarity against fascism. The rally was organised with the aim of raising awareness of discrimination, hatred, and violence in light of recent incidents on campus in which offensive graffiti was found in the Guild of Students.

Students from the University’s Jewish Society (JSoc), the LGBTQ Association, the Women’s Association, the Black and Ethnic Minorities’ Association (BEMA), and the Disabled & Mental Health Association (DAMSA) were all in attendance, and many held homemade signs and posters condemning fascist rhetoric and behaviour.

Keiller: 'the fight is bigger than our campus walls (...) when we stand together we are stronger'

Leading the rally was Guild President Ellie Keiller, who delivered a speech stating how she was both ‘heart warmed and heartbroken’ that such an event had to take place. She went on to say that, even though ‘the fight is bigger than our campus walls […] when we stand together we are stronger’. Keiller also highlighted the importance of speaking out against intolerance with reference to Wednesday’s terror attack in Westminster, for which a minute’s silence was observed to remember the victims and all others affected.

Speaking on behalf of DAMSA, Rachel O’Brien stated how, although disableist slurs and other displays of fascism are ‘nothing new’, they are ‘absolutely reprehensible’. She added that ‘we need to stick together’ in order to tackle fascism effectively on campus and elsewhere. The campaigns officer for JSoc echoed these sentiments by saying, ‘we are appalled by the acts we’ve seen here at the Guild, the Vale, and the wider Birmingham community’, reinforcing how action must be taken in order to protect students targeted because of their identities.

Fisch: 'racism and fascism will not be tolerated on campus in any shape or form. Every student has the right to feel safe and be able to express their identity openly'

Speaking to Redbrick, Anti-Racism and Anti-Fascism Officer Rachel Fisch said, ‘racism and fascism will not be tolerated on campus in any shape or form. Every student has the right to feel safe and be able to express their identity openly’. She also added that ‘we need to stand together to tackle this issue, as nothing is more powerful than a united front’, and commended the Guild Officer Team for their hard work and dedication.

In a statement released later that day, Ellie Keiller thanked those who attended the rally, saying, ‘it was so incredible to see people from different groups all come together to stand against all rhetoric of hatred both on and off our campus’. She also urged anyone affected by recent national events to seek support from Guild Advice and university support services.

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