Cambridge University celebrates its black students at Black Cantabs: History Makers
It’s great (but long overdue) to see that Cambridge University is celebrating its black students past and present, with its latest exhibition at Cambridge University Library, Black Cantabs: History Makers. The exhibition profiles some of its famous alumni, from Diane Abbott (surely she didn’t read Maths) to Thandie Newton.
Apart from taking my TAP colleagues along to it, which I will be doing, I couldn’t help but focus on the origins of the exhibition. It’s the brainchild of Surer Mohammed, President of the Black Cantabs Research Society, which she also founded, in order to promote information about black alumni of the university. It has the express aim that current and future generations of black students in Cambridge won’t feel loneliness and isolation because they will have a site of information that provides evidence of black people’s long history of attending the University.
Interestingly, Surer chose her college, Queen’s, because its website had an image of Njoki Wamaj, another black student, on it:
"The reason why I applied to Queen's College was because I saw Njoki on the website. I saw myself at Queen's because I saw someone like myself at Queen's."
Isn’t that precisely why universities should be mobilising a diverse body of student ambassadors? So that they can appeal to all students, whatever their orientation, ethnicity, faith or otherwise, and country of origin. At The Access Platform (TAP), we help universities do exactly what Queen’s did, only with richer information, such as what students are studying, precisely where they are from, and what other interests they have.