The Black Asian and Minority (BAME) network launched at the University of Portsmouth on 30 October.
The network was originally established as an online movement in 2011, by co-founders Dr Daniel Lartey and Mr Dwayne Smith, with the intention of “representing the diverse collective interests of the UK’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.”
The event, which was the first of four to take place across this academic year, was attended by thirty students and several members of staff.
The launch commenced with a presentation by the District Commander for Southampton, Alison Heydari, who was widely celebrated throughout Black History Month for being one of the UK’s highest-ranking black female officers.
She gave an account of her career, starting with joining the police force in 2001, and explaining how she then progressed to her current position in 2016.
Alison Heydari has made several significant achievements in her sixteen years of service. These include being one of two officers chosen to engage in the the John Jay Exchange Programme in New York. In addition to this, she is also the founder of the Community Observer Scheme, which operates throughout Hampshire to help the public understand the police force’s stop and search powers.
Heydari noted that she has not felt disadvantaged by her gender or ethnicity at all in her career, saying that she believes in “using being different as something really positive.”
She also highlighted the importance of networks like BAME in supporting young people, adding “I think it’s really important to have a network of people you trust.”
Participants were later separated into groups to discuss issues facing BAME students like the 22% attainment gap and belonging to the university community. The organiser of the invent, Angel Layer, hopes to tackle both of these through the programme.
Layer intends to accomplish this through members being given ‘first-hand involvement’ in the ambassador and mentoring schemes. These have been established to strengthen students’ connection to those who teach and support them throughout the university.
The next meeting is due to take place at the start of next term.