Interview: ethnic minorities officer Yousef Baboul

Yousef comes from south west London and lived there all his life until moving to Norwich for university. His mother is from Scotland and his father is from Egypt. He is a second year undergraduate studying politics.

What were your initial thoughts on being elected?

I just want to thank everyone that went out and voted. Thank you to people that took time out of their day to vote.

What do you think you will bring to the Ethnic Minorities Officer role?

I’m a good listener. I like to listen and hear people’s thoughts. I want to make sure everyone gets a similar playing field, solve disputes and make it so that people feel proud to be an ethnic minority and come to this university.

In your manifesto, you say you’re going to encourage applications. Does this mean you are going to tackle social and racial inclusiveness so that UEA gets a broader spread of students?

I think there have been some actions taken by Communications Officer (Matt Myles) to get bursaries. I think the university itself, especially now with the £9,000 tuition fees, should try and reach out to different backgrounds.

When I studied sociology, I read that most people from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to go to university. If they are good enough, there should be an effort to get them to come to this university.

Does this mean you are going to do some outreach work in Norwich with say some local schools?

Yeah, maybe. There’s Norwich City Academy over there [it borders UEA]. There are people from different ethnic backgrounds that go there.

We could ask them to come to UEA to different ethnic events as they might feel put off because Norwich is predominately white and middle class. They might think “Oh, if I come to UEA it’s not ethnically diverse.” I would like to show other more ethnically diverse areas of the country that UEA is an ethnically diverse university.

You mentioned that you want to make sure that “no one is left behind” and everyone at the university can integrate. How are you going to achieve this?  

I think to tackle integration, you have to make events seem more open to people and not just the ethnic minorities.

There are some good events like the International Week and Go Global Week.  I think they should be in the square and more around the university itself as it’s usually just in the Hive with a table and chairs. Whereas there is an event outside today with the Muslim community and they are doing lots of stuff.

There’s lots of misunderstandings and apprehensions about Islam and they were trying to alleviate these issues and they were doing a good job at that. I think there needs to be more events like that.

Obviously, it should be optional for these ethnic minorities to participate; I just believe the university should try more and do more because they should have a voice in the university and can show different people different cultures.

Do you have any ideas as to integrating Into students better? As sometimes they are viewed as quite cut off due to the language barrier.

I’ve spoken to some students from Into and it was quite hard to communicate with them that they can vote or not. Maybe the university could try and hold more events at Into.

I could try talking to the people at the top of Into to try and alleviate those problems. Perhaps native speakers could give talks representing UEA to try and emphasise that UEA is reaching out to them.

How do you think you are going to integrate yourself into the student officer team? How do you see yourself working with the full time officers?

I was speaking to the International Officer, Astrid Simonsen, and obviously we have a similar role and so I will be working closely with her and the top four.

With the Communications Officer, I’ll be trying to tell people what events are going on. We will put it on Facebook and Twitter and also just going out and talking to people and saying “Yer, these events are on.” It’s good to put stuff on Twitter but sometimes you just need to go out and speak to people.

I’ll have to talk closely with the Community and Student Rights Officer, Sam Clark, about certain issues and he can help me and I can help him. I look forward to getting the ball rolling.

To end on a light note, what’s your favourite biscuit?

That’s a hard one! I do like Maryland Cookies. They are up there, especially when you dip them into tea.



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May 2022
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