Manchester Arena: statement from the President

Thursday 25-05-2017 - 14:06
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On Tuesday morning, following the devastating attack at Manchester Arena on Monday 22 May, I released a statement urging all of our students to come together, as a collective and show that attempts to divide our community will only make us stronger. 

Although this is a sad and frightening time for all of us and the city, I must say how proud I am of all staff and students who have stood together in solidarity to support everyone who has been affected by this tragedy. You have shown that love and collectivism is more powerful than hate and that no matter what happens, our community spirit, pride and resilience will not be broken. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all, and urge you to carry on supporting each other as we have and show the world that #WeStandTogether.

Throughout this week, myself and University colleagues have been working tirelessly to make our campus safer than it already is. Without intending to scare anyone, I do think it is important to make sure that you all know that when the national threat level went to critical, the University’s automatic precautionary measures meant that as an institution our response level increased to exceptional. I must reiterate that this is purely a precautionary measure to make our community feel safer, rather than us expecting any sort of imminent threat. 

The increase in response rate means that there will be; additional foot and vehicle patrols by security staff; possible I.D and bag checks in to University buildings; full time security at the Chester Road car park - who can institute a vehicle search programme if they deem it necessary; Security vehicles to be placed outside of our main campus buildings; pedestrian walkway between the All Saints and Birley Campus’ to be locked. 

You may also have seen some media attention around the prevent agenda and the stance certain Student Unions’ are taking, so I wanted to explain ours. Both ourselves and the University have been proactive with the prevent duty, to ensure that we’re not only abiding by the law, but doing everything we can to keep our campus and our community safe. Although there are concerns across the country about how the strategy is implemented, Manchester Metropolitan has ensured that everything we do, is done with sensitivity and in the best interests of students. All elected student officers, senior management, as well as over 1,000 University staff have been trained in the prevent duty over the last year by our Head of Security at Manchester Met, Alan Cain, with the intention of training the remaining staff members over the next two years.

Unfortunately, one of the outcomes of this incident is fear that can lead to hate crime. Certain people across the country stereotyping Muslims in the way we have seen over the last few days is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Although we are one unified community, I want to reemphasise the fact that if any of our Muslim students would like any additional support from The Union, please get in touch with us and we will do whatever we can to help in any way. I intend to work with our Islamic society, to see how we can work together to spread positive messages of support, solidarity and unity during this difficult time. Our Advice centre is a hate crime reporting centre. I urge you all, whether you are a victim or witness any sort of hate crime, please report it either by visiting the Union or contacting the Advice centre on 0161 247 6533

Finally, again, I would like to say how proud I am to see the reaction of our staff and students. Although this is an extremely difficult time for us all, we have stood together and supported one another. In times of crisis, you really do appreciate the support networks and people around you. We will be stronger because of this! 

Lewis Barlett

President, The Union, Manchester Metropolitan

#WeAreManchester #WeAreOne #WeStandTogether 

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