On 14 February 2018 we officially launched our work as a student-led platform. Intersectionality was and is at the core of our work. The students we worked with gave input on where our focus should be, and they chose to focus on the topics of gender within academia, LGBTQ+ students and the decolonisation of curricula.
The movement for the decolonisation of academia has its roots in the University of Cape Town in South Africa. On 9 March 2015, the protest movement #RhodesMustFall, called for the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the university. Further than the removal of statues of colonials who were also responsible for the deaths of countless Africans, the movement also called for the decolonization of South African education. This movement gained global attention, with many students across different universities (eg. Cambridge University and Oxford University) calling for the decolonization of their respective academic institution and their curricula. It is in this light that we as UNDIVIDED for KU Leuven were inspired to call for the decolonization of KU Leuven as well.
The last three years we have been working on the decolonisation of academia in different ways. We have a seat within the Diversity Council of KU Leuven in which we follow the policy decisions the university makes. Here we have talked extensively to the members of the council (professors, the vice-rector responsible for diversity, other personnel in the different services within KU Leuven) about the meaning and the necessity of decolonisation within academia at large, and within KU Leuven specifically. We have written opinion pieces about this in Veto and on our own blog as well. We have also managed to have an impact on the national and regional debates regarding decolonisation of academia.
This manifesto is an attempt to communicate in a clear and concise manner what we envisage under the decolonization of KU Leuven.
The manifesto comprises of ten demands. These demands all touch on a diverse plethora of aspects: ranging from the absence of Black professors and professors of colour in KU Leuven, KU Leuven’s own participation in the colonial history of Belgium, the necessity of structural anti-racism policy that effectively abolishes institutional racism within KU Leuven specifically, and so much more.
Join us in in the quest for the decolonisation of KU Leuven.