By Robbie Young
All forms of hate and prejudice are unacceptable, wherever and whenever they occur. I want to ensure that the doors of the student movement are open to everyone – that everyone has the opportunity through education to learn, share ideas and grow without fear. Where students face prejudice I want us to take action and make things better for those who are telling us that things need to change.
That’s why in November last year I launched a research project to understand the experiences of Jewish students in the UK, a first of its kind study for NUS to develop recommendations for students’ unions to work towards making sure universities are inclusive and welcoming to Jewish people. The survey has been conducted against a backdrop of increased antisemitism and reports of hate crime against Jewish people, following the rise of the far right and left after the Brexit vote, and in Europe more widely.
This piece of work is to improve the experience of Jewish students across the movement and to gain a better understanding of the types of hostilities facing them in 2017. We have to understand how we as a collective movement can take steps to ensure Jewish students feel welcome in our spaces and on our campuses.
It’s no secret that NUS along with the wider student movement has been divided on issues regarding Israel – Palestine, and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns. But we are not unique; political parties, governments and whole countries hold a variety of beliefs and often find themselves on similar lines of division. What the student movement must do differently is not allow the political debates to become toxic and ensure that we are allowing our members to engage positively and critically with informed dialogue.