Your Full-Time Officers Talk About Their Experience as Black Students

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October is Black History Month and it is the perfect occasion to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of Black people to British Society. Even though the Black community has always been at the forefront of social justice movements, their achievements, and especially those of Black women, are often overlooked.

Throughout this month, SUBU will run many events in collaboration with African Caribbean Society to both create safe spaces for BU’s Black community and to educate others on the inequalities that have existed throughout history and the action they can take to make a difference.

We have also sat down with SU President, Chike Dike, and VP Education Norah Valerie Deka, to talk about their experiences as both Black students and black officers, as well as about the importance of having a diverse team of Full-Time Officers leading SUBU.

When talking about his experience when he first moved to the UK, Chike said “It was interesting because back home in Nigeria, everyone is Black so there is that common ground and I never felt othered. But when I came here, I suddenly became a Black person, which was really strange because back home I’m like everyone else.”

Similarly, Norah admitted that when she moved to Bournemouth from a diverse area in Kent, she was worried she wouldn’t find a lot of people like her. These worries didn’t last long, however, and she soon met people from the most diverse backgrounds.

“The friends you make, even though you don’t think that you’re similar, physically, you notice along the way that there are similar things that they experienced while growing up,” she said.

Chike also spoke about his transition from student to staff, saying that “it is nerve-racking to feel like you’re representing this large group of students but at the same time it’s very empowering feeling like you’re the one that can really make a difference for those students by bringing their perspective into the room.”

Norah’s experience was similar, and she often found herself struggling with imposter syndrome and hiding her personality, sometimes without even noticing. “I code switch very easily and sometimes I do to it an extent that I don’t even notice I’m speaking differently.

“There’s a part of me that thinks it’s cool, that in the corporate world I’ll be able to do this but there’s another part of me that’s like, I want to show my personality a bit more… I don’t want to be like everyone else in that room,” she said.

Having a diverse team leading SUBU is something that both Chike and Norah highlighted during this conversation, not only because it offers a better understanding of the experiences of Black students, but also because it shows other Black students that they can be a Full-Time Officer too, something that they are very proud to be part of.

“When I came to university, the team of Full-Time Officers were all Black students and just seeing that made me understand that I could do that as well so it’s very special being that person for someone else,” Chike said.

Norah agreed, adding “One thing I really love about this role is students from different backgrounds coming up to us and saying ‘it’s so nice to see diversity in the Full-Time Officer team because I can see myself in that role’

“I’m glad that we are that representation that students see and feel comfortable coming to.”

You can find the full video below and in our Youtube channel.

To find out more about our Black History Month events click here and make sure to follow us on social media @sububournemouth so you don’t miss a thing!

And remember, SUBU's Black Students' Network is a space for Black students' to create a community, be supported and encourage other to be allies. You can join as a member of the Network or an ally here.