A previous version of this article suggested that it was a fact that the module coordinator had no background in race studies, when in fact this was merely claimed by the open letter written by AfSAI. We have corrected the article to state that this is a false claim made by a third party, and not The College Tribune.

The African Scholars Association of Ireland (AfSAI) has sent an open letter to UCD protesting against the module ‘ENG32560 Writing Black: African American Literature and Racial Consciousness’ which they falsely claim is taught by a white module coordinator with no background in race studies. They claim the module is indicative of a greater systemic problem of lack of support for Black scholarship in UCD and across Ireland.  

The letter states that “the way the module has been organized invokes the history of the exploitation of Black suffering for personal and institutional gain and profit, as well as the unacknowledged appropriation of Black scholarship”.

The AfSAI further states that the module’s organisation “effectively reproduces the structural racism that disadvantages Black scholars within the academy”. They state that there are no Black academics in the module’s department, no research center or networks for African or Black Studies in Ireland to foster scholarship and there is only one fulltime academic staff member of Black descent across UCD’s departments. 

The AfSAI notes the focus on “the social good” and public support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement by UCD, but lack of action in linking those sentiments with academic practice and staff is “effectively anti-Black” as the Institution is “mouthing anti-racist rhetoric in public-facing statements and course descriptions, our institutions opportunistically profit from public opinion.”

The letter lays out several demands for UCD. They call for UCD to “rescind its decision to offer modules on Blackness that are taught by white staff” as the lecturers “have conducted no substantive scholarship on Black race consciousness or Blackness”. It is also claimed that UCD did not attempt to recruit from outside the department or offer Black scholars the opportunity to compete to develop the module.

The letter calls for internal redevelopment of the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) structure, programming in relation to race, racial discrimination racism and anti-racism, and for greater expertise in issues of racial equity within management structures.

The University’s action regarding this module “suggests that the University either does not truly understand or is unwilling to fully grasp and engage with the nature of the issues and current mobilizations around racial justice”.

A previous version of this article was published without comment from the School of English, Drama and Film, which was done in error. Since the original publication of this article, it has come to the attention of the College Tribune that the School of English, Drama and Film had written to AfSAI on Thursday 11 March to request that they correct their letter which suggests that the module coordinator of the ‘ENG32560 Writing Black: African American Literature and Racial Consciousness’ module has no background in race studies.

After the original publication of this article, the College Tribune were given comment on the issue from School:

“UCD School of English, Drama and Film wrote to the authors of the open letter to request retractions of a number of false claims made about our hiring and teaching practices. The School has been actively engaged, both independently and in collaboration with partners, in a process of decolonising and diversifying our curriculum over many years. We remain committed to doing so, and we welcome the call from the authors of this letter for allies in working towards a more inclusive university and society”

Sarah Eiland – Reporter