Students posed for the pictures in St John's College's New CourtCambridge University ACS

Following the viral response to photos posted on Facebook earlier this week by the Cambridge University African-Caribbean Society (ACS), members of the CUSU executive have spoken about the importance of increasing the visibility of students from ethnic minorities in Cambridge.

The photographs show fourteen black male students of the University posing in St John’s College’s New Court, in an effort to “capture just some of the black men who contribute to one of the world's most innovative intellectual spaces.”

The caption accompanying the photos reads: “In 2015, only 15 black, male undergraduates were accepted into Cambridge.

“However, it is important that despite their underrepresentation, we let young black people know that this is something that they can aspire to.”

The post has been liked over 4,000 times, and has received almost 1,000 shares, as well as coverage from the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and BuzzFeed.

Speaking to Varsity, Eireann Attridge, CUSU’s Access and Funding Officer, praised the ACS’ efforts to raise the profile of black students at the University, saying that it is “wonderful to see students working to inspire prospective students from similar backgrounds.”

She spoke of her personal experience of seeing Cambridge students appear on television programmes, which “reassured me that [the University] was somewhere I could apply to and there were others like me already there.”

She also emphasised the importance of the ‘I, too am Cambridge’ campaign, run by the CUSU BME campaign in 2014, in encouraging current students to apply, and publicising attempts to challenge “micro-aggressions faced by students of colour”.

She continued, “I hope that the presence of students from ACS in the media creates the same optimism amongst prospective black students.”

CUSU President Amatey Doku told Varsity that it was “brilliant” to see that “black students at Cambridge, despite being so few in number, are getting the visibility that is so often denied to them.”

However, he stressed that the activism of students from other minority groups, including black women and non-binary people, “often goes unnoticed”, and suggested that the efforts of black men are more likely to achieve prominence in mainstream media because they can “more easily inhabit a ‘cool’ aesthetic”.

“The reality is that women and non-binary people tend to be far more involved in the day-to-day activism,” he continued, “and indeed it was a woman, the president of ACS, who was behind this particular photoshoot.”

“It's our job to make sure that we recognize the work done by all students, especially women, and I think CUSU should have a stronger role to play in making sure that we promote the work of all our activists across the board."

Additional reporting by Anna Hollingsworth

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