City Students' Union recognises the call from staff, students and the wider public, to change the name of City’s Cass Business School. These calls come in light of the global movement for justice and equality for all. A petition has been launched and signed by staff and students at City and currently holds just over 1,400 signatures.
The Cass Business School, formerly known as the City University Business School, was established in 1966 and underwent an official name change in 2002 following a significant donation from the Sir John Cass Foundation. The School was officially opened under its new name by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 at Bunhill Row and continues to be a leading business school in the UK, Europe and around the world.
The calls to rename the school arise from the founder of the Sir John Cass Foundation, Sir John Cass himself (1660 - 1718), a former Member of Parliament and ‘major player in the early development of the slave-trade and the Atlantic slave-economy’. Sir John Cass ‘directly dealt with slave-agents in the African forts and in the Caribbean. We know too that Cass retained shares in the Royal African Company until his death’ (Dresser, 2007).
City Students’ Union recognises the history of the Sir John Cass Foundation, however, we cannot overlook the role individuals like Sir John Cass played in the inherently violent slave trade, the effects of which continue to affect members of our communities through shared histories and deep-rooted systemic inequalities.
We are proud of our diverse body of students at City and will always commit to fighting for positive change. Our previous statements on Black Lives Matter and meaningful calls for justice demand that we, as a Students’ Union, respond to incidents such as the one in question.
Many of our students have reached out to us about the renaming of the Cass business School and so we would like to make it clear that as your Students’ Union we are joining the call for City, University of London to rename the Cass business school with ample input and representation from our diverse City community. We look forward to having direct involvement in the process and pledge to keep our members and the wider community updated with any developments with maximum transparency.
That being said, as a Union we recognise the calls from students and Alumni who have raised concern about how renaming the School would affect the prestige and reputation the Cass Business School name brings to their daily lives and careers. Changing the Schools name would in no way effect the quality of the education received on Business programmes at our institution and would actively reject and tackle one of City’s most blatant ties to racism.
Further to this statement, we call on City to use this opportunity to address the systemic racism within our institution, and seek for them to act on the following things:
- End the outsourcing of our cleaning and catering colleagues who are overwhelmingly from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
- Address racism within hiring and promotion, and take anti-racist steps to increase people of colour representation at all levels
- Introduce mandatory anti-racism and unconscious bias training for all staff, including City’s Executive Leadership Team
- Be active in overhauling and decolonising the curriculum
- Employ BAME Wellbeing and Counselling staff and implement cultural competency training for relevant staff
If you have any queries, concerns or would simply like to have your voice heard, please get in touch with one of your student sabbatical officers or the wider students’ Union.
Signed and unconditionally backed by your Student Executive team:
- Saqlain Riaz, Rania Salim, Tuna Kunt – Student Sabbatical Officers (Signed on behalf of the Student Union Executive Officer Team)
- Shaima Dallali and Ruqaiyah Javaid (Incoming Student Sabbatical Officers 2020-2021)