New Working Group on BAME veterinary student support holds first meeting - Veterinary Practice
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New Working Group on BAME veterinary student support holds first meeting

Group aims to identify areas where students required additional support and discuss some of the discriminatory incidents that they had encountered

A joint RCVS and Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) Working Group on how to better support Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students at UK veterinary schools recently had its first meeting where it confirmed its areas of work.

The Group was formed following an RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Group (DIG)/VSC joint roundtable discussion held last autumn, which brought together students, faculty and members of the profession to identify areas where students required additional support and discuss some of the discriminatory incidents that they had encountered. Three had come out of the roundtable:

  • Developing clear discrimination reporting structures, particularly for students on extra-mural studies (EMS)
  • Developing and supporting a group of role models within the vet schools amongst both the student body and faculty
  • Developing support structures for BAME students, with faculty being trained on how to do this

The Group will also be looking at guidance for the wearing of religious clothing within a clinical context. The new Working Group is co-chaired by Professor Rob Pettit, who represents the VSC on the RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Group, and Stephanie-Rae Flicker, a final year veterinary student at the RVC who also took part in the roundtable discussion last year. The group also includes other BAME student representatives, Vet Futures Student Ambassadors, UK vet school representatives, RCVS President Mandisa Greene and senior RCVS staff.

At the inaugural meeting, which took place on Monday 15 March 2021, it was decided that its immediate priority would be around the reporting structure for discriminatory incidents encountered on EMS or other work placements. It was agreed that further options will need to be considered and a legal expert with experience on reporting mechanisms would be invited to the next meeting so that the Group could consider different options with a view to making recommendations.

Professor Pettitt, as co-chair of the Working Group, said: “I co-hosted the roundtable last year and found it fascinating and insightful but also recognised the considerable frustrations that the students felt and that’s why I am excited that this group has now got underway so we can focus on making progress and finding solutions to the issues that were raised.

“It’s vitally important of course that these decisions are not made for the students, but by them, and that’s why I am very glad to have Stephanie-Rae as my co-chair, as someone who can voice the concerns of her peers and help articulate the issues.”

Stephanie-Rae added: “The willingness of this group to have student co-chair reflects appreciation for the student voice of our universities, and I feel honoured to be taking on this role. Especially for this group, representation of affected parties really matters and being able to give an unfiltered perspective of experiences will benefit all members.

“While this is not a permanent group, the report and recommendations that are produced will be actioned by the permanent Diversity and Inclusivity group, and always bringing in expert advice and lived experience where needed. We plan on sourcing expertise where necessary and should reflect on the efforts that have been made by other organisations, particularly in the last year.

“To have this group born out of the initial roundtable was a great step forward. Now, we need our group to proactively help the RCVS to implement necessary changes to truly make the profession supportive, nurturing, and accessible to all.”

The full RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Group Strategy can be found online.

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