Goldsmiths Pimlott Building
The Goldsmiths Pimlott BuildingWikimedia Commons

A student union officer responsible for promoting diversity at Goldsmiths University asked white people and men not to attend an anti-racism meeting, student newspaper The Tab reported on Tuesday (21 April).

Bahar Mustafa, who is the welfare and diversity officer at the New Cross, south London university, wrote on Facebook that the event was only open to women from black or minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

Posting on Facebook before the planned event on Tuesday, she wrote: "If you've been invited and you're a man and/or white PLEASE DON'T COME just cos I invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME Women and non-binary event only."

Bahar Mustafa Facebook
The Facebook post

The event aimed to challenge "the white-centric culture of occupations" while "diversifying our curriculum" and building a "cross-campus campaign that puts liberation at the heart of the movement."

A webpage set up for the event - which called for "zero tolerance policies on all forms of prejudice, discrimination and oppression" - initially stated that the meeting was "for all self-defining BLACK and ETHNIC MINORITY women and non-binary people with gender identities that include 'woman.'"

A member of the student union called the request "patronising beyond belief".

"The irony that she [or they] think that they are diversifying the student community in the name of feminism and multiculturalism is laughable," they told The Tab.

Following outrage on social media and on campus, organisers of the event declared that all were welcome.

Explaining the previous messages, they wrote: "Occupations, especially in higher education, are too often dominated by white, male, and able-bodied people.

"Our occupation was initially very white and male and therefore deterred BME and women, especially BME women, and disabled students.

"The dynamics however did change because of the hard work of BME women and disabled students in the space challenging the white-centric culture of occupations.

''For these reasons its important to organise around these issues which affect all students, but minority students particularly, from a point which starts with us."

In response to the controversy, a spokeswoman for Goldsmiths University said: "The Students' Union is an independent body run by elected student officials and we have no involvement in their decision making or the programme of events that they offer. We have no involvement in the appointment of the student representatives.

"We are proud of our diverse community and do not tolerate any form of oppression, including racism, sexism or any other form of bigotry.

"We have written to the Students' Union today to express our concern."