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Pembroke’s Inaugural Diversity Week

9th May 2016

Article by The Diversity Week Team:

From the 24th to 29th of April 2016, the Liberation Council of Pembroke’s JCR organised its inaugural Diversity Week. A series of events were hosted to celebrate difference, foster an inclusive spirit and raise awareness of the challenges some communities in Pembroke face. Throughout the week, a Diversity Canvas was also put up in the JCR for Pembrokians to pen or draw their thoughts on what diversity means to them.

The events kicked off with an International Welfare Tea. Jointly organised by the Peer Supporters, International Representative (Arnav Chaube) and second-year student Yew Loong Fong, the Tea gave Pembrokians the opportunity to try a comprehensive selection of food from China, Germany, India, Israel, Pakistan, Singapore and Spain. The international and British ethnic minority students who kindly contributed food were proud to share their culture with their peers. Highly popular, the Tea was dubbed as ‘the most crowded I’ve ever seen a welfare tea’ by second-year student Alex Wood.

A special screening of The History Boys was the access event on 25th April. The award-winning comedy thoroughly entertained, but it also began a discussion on the experiences of state school pupils when applying to Oxbridge. Access Representative Charles McGrath brought home the point after the movie, when he gave a short brief on Pembroke’s access schemes and how current students can get involved.

Pembroke JCR's 'Diversity Canvas'

An open mic night was run by LGBTQ+ Representative Hannah Kentridge on 26th April to raise funds for the charity Broken Rainbow, the UK’s only national domestic violence charity for the LGBTQ+ community. A total of £90 was raised and the audience enjoyed their night. As first-year student Hope Oloye commented, ‘live music from such talented performers, a really warm and welcoming atmosphere and the sense of helping through donations in the little way we can truly made it an absolutely amazing night to be a part of!

The Racial and Ethnic Minorities Representative Farheen Ahmed organized an engaging panel discussion on Islam and Islamophobia on 27th April. Three speakers were invited, namely Zera Mohammed, Vice President of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies; Sammaya Afzal, Women’s and Campaign’s Officer at the University of Bradford’s Student Union; and Shenaz Bunglawala, Head of Research at Muslim Engagement and Development. A highly relevant issue in light of recent global events, the discussion brought to the fore the challenges Muslim communities face in the UK when faced with misconceptions about their religion.

To conclude the week’s events, Jenny Earle, Programme Director from the Prison Reform Trust, was invited to speak by the Gender Equalities Representative Ronni Blackford on 28th April on the topic of women’s imprisonment in the UK. Her presentation gave the audience a more nuanced understanding of the specific needs of female inmates and how, as mothers and carers, imprisonment adversely affects them and their families.

It is heartening that Diversity Week was well received and that there were learning points taken away. As third-year student Sophie Dowle remarked, ‘The Diversity Week events were engaging, informative and fun. They covered a wide variety of issues in stimulating ways. I was able to hear about some topics that really interest me (Islam and Islamophobia and women in prisons) from some excellent speakers who work with these issues everyday.'

Diversity Week’s roaring success would not have been possible without the funding of Pembroke’s Annual Fund grant. We would also like to especially thank second-year student James Robson for his photography coverage throughout the event and Disabilities Representative Katherine Lightbown who has also played a big role in Diversity Week’s organization.

Finally, we are proud of and thankful for the strong turnout for Diversity week by Pembroke students. This is testament to Pembroke’s commitment to be one of Oxford’s most progressive and welcoming colleges.

Photos: James Robson