Seven Questions with UCL ChangeMakers Decolonising the Curriculum team

This week we meet Lily Challenger-Rowe (right) and Sailee Khurjekar (left) - Members of the UCL ChangeMakers Decolonising the Curriculum team who are hyper-organised, uber-creative, and outspoken feminists.

Lily is in her second year of an MA in Gender, Society and Representation; Sailee is in her third year of a BA in Philosophy and History of Art.

Why did you sign up to join the UCL ChangeMakers Decolonising the Curriculum team, and what are your plans for the future?

Lily: I joined up because I really want to be a part of change at UCL that will benefit the many, not just the few. In a contemporary context, the decolonisation of academia is so important and I am passionate about working towards this objective at UCL, as well as in a broader context in the future. I believe that we must celebrate diversity on and off campus, because that is what has made the UK great.

Sailee: I signed up to be a part of this team because I care deeply about social justice and the representation of minorities. I wanted to use my position as a female British Indian to highlight the positive impact that the process of decolonisation can have in society. I am currently applying for MPhil programmes, and eventually want to obtain a PhD in Philosophy, which has been a dream of mine since I was 11 years old. I want to either be an academic philosopher or work in Government Policy and/or Cultural Heritage Sites and Museums.

Find out how to receive up to £850 for a UCL ChangeMakers project in your department.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen, or got involved with while at UCL?

Lily: Probably this project as it has allowed me to develop my organisational skills and meet new people. I also really enjoy being an active bystander trainer and helping train the student body in this area. Active Bystander is a Students Union initiative aiming to challenge poor behaviours, and bring about cultural alteration through the strengthening messages that define boundaries of unacceptable behaviour.

Sailee: I was President of the UCL Philosophy Society last academic year, and the whole experience was incredibly enjoyable. It was super stressful at times, and some tears were shed, but it is a time in my life which I will always recall with such fondness. I don’t think I’d do it again - I certainly don’t want to develop a power-complex or anything like that - but I met and mingled with some of my childhood philosophy heroes and I’m forever grateful to have had the opportunity to lead a Society which is part of one of the friendliest Departments at UCL.

Have you discovered any exciting gems during your time at UCL?

Lily: Did anyone else know that there is a cafe on the third floor of the Student Centre?

Sailee: I have taken more selfies with Jeremy Bentham’s embalmed body than I have written essays, and I’m weirdly proud of that. Anyone who is in the general Bloomsbury area should definitely visit the auto-icon, which is located at the end of the South Cloisters.

Give us your top two things to do/see/go to in London:

Lily:

  • I like Charity Shop shopping and I find Hammersmith High Street to be the best place for that!
  • Persepolis, which is a Persian restaurant in Peckham.
  • For anyone that’s into absinthe, or is willing enough to give it a try, I came across Croque Monsieur in Camden with some friends the other day. I now know what loucheing is, and I’ve tried some pretty decent absinthe (some of which is banned in other countries).
  • Go and see the Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. I’ve had many conversations with actual Mormons who are often seen close to the campus, and 90% of them have seen the musical and unironically loved it, which I think is very cool.
  • If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?

    Lily: Decolonise the Curriculum!

    Sailee: Talk. With students. With staff. With security guards. With cleaners. With everyone who makes the UCL community what it is. The idea of being in a position of power and not meeting, understanding, and sharing a laugh or cry with those who make our university so incredibly special is ludicrous to me. And, really, the first thing I would say when I meet these people is the most sincere and genuine "thank you".

    Who inspires you and why?

    Lily: bell hooks. Audre Lorde. Gloria Steinem. Judith Butler. Angela Davis. Assata Shakur. Afeni Shakur. Kimberlé Crenshaw. Alexandra Kollontai. Any woman who has contributed to the study of gender inequality.

    Sailee: Michael Flood. Michael Messner. Michael Kimmel. Clearly, quite a few academic pro-feminists are called Michael! Any man who has contributed to the study of gender inequality. Plus, Sachin Khurjekar, Nick Massey, James Holt, and Rob Simpson, all of whom have personally inspired me more than they’ll ever realise.

    What is a fun fact about you?

    Lily: I really like singing, especially Motown and Soul.

    Sailee: I have a black-belt in Shotokan Karate, and obtained second Dan.


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