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Nahren Neno and Mića-Rose Dubique, LIPA

Nahren Neno and Mića-Rose Dubique, LIPA

 

Neno and Dubique (pictured) are both students finishing at LIPA this year. Neno said she was the only person of colour on the applied theatre course, which has 25 students, and said she had experienced fellow students saying racist things to her.

“Some of the comments made by students to me are not acceptable and I think that reflects senior management,” she said. “If you don't have anyone higher than you telling you how they stand it can reflect in those comments.”

Neno also questioned whether enough was done by the school to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds. “Not a lot of BAME students are applying, that is what LIPA seems to say, but I question are they doing enough to go into communities to say this is something you can do from a younger age,” she said.

Speaking about principal Mark Featherstone-Witty’s initial statement, which said “every life matters”, she said: “I was not shocked or surprised, which is telling. It’s inappropriate in the situation as there are people out there whose lives don't matter to people and that should be the focus.”

Dubique, meanwhile, is on the sound technology course, and said she was once thanked by a member of staff for being on it.

“I was being thanked as a black woman being on sound technology,” she said. “There is a severe lack of women in the industry and women of colour. He should not be thanking me, he should be going out of his way to involve BAME communities and there should be no thanking.”

She also said she had experienced racial slurs and said management did not do enough.

“It’s constantly feeling uncomfortable and it’s because of the senior management, which is not good enough,” she said. “They can’t stay silent and they need to be actively anti-racist.”

LIPA responds:

In an email to students, principal Mark Featherstone-Witty said he was “sorry for my poor choice of words in my first statement on the Black Lives Matter movement”.

He said: “When I used the sentence ‘every life matters’ in my original statement, I used it in its broadest sense. I was unaware that this had been used by some groups to undermine and diminish the fight against racism and prejudice. If I had, I would never have used it. I deeply regret any offence it has caused. I am grateful to the students, graduates and staff who have reached out to educate me,” he said.

Featherstone-Witty said racism and prejudice went beyond politics. “It is an issue of human rights and everyone has a responsibility to speak out. As an institution we must do better, we can do better. We will look at our policy of commenting on world events so we can more readily represent the feelings of our students and staff,” he said.

LIPA said it was working with the Diversity School Initiative to ensure this happens.

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