On Friday 22nd July, 2016, the CUSU President received a response to the Open Letter sent to the NUS following a meeting of CUSU Council on 2nd May 2016. At the meeting, CUSU Council mandated the sabbatical officer team for 2015/16, who have since completed their terms, to write to the NUS expressing their concerns about reports of widespread anti-Semitism within the institution. In the letter, CUSU re-affirmed its condemnation of anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms and asked the NUS to “do more to protect the rightful place of Jewish students within the student movement”. The letter also raised concerns from Jewish students about the widespread coverage of reported remarks made by the then NUS President Elect, which were considered by Jewish students to be unacceptable.
Now as NUS President, Malia Bouattia has responded directly to CUSU in a letter which can be viewed here. The current sabbatical officer team are encouraged by some of the steps which the NUS appears to be taking to tackle anti-Semitism and especially look forward to the findings of the Independent Institutional Racism Review being undertaken by The Runnymede Trust.
However, the new sabbatical team recognise that only Jewish students can fully judge whether or not the measures being taken are sufficient and whether progress is being made. In light of that, the new sabbatical team will fully engage with Jewish students over the next year and hope to carry out a Jewish Students’ Consultation at the earliest possible convenience. The aim of this consultation will be to understand more fully the past and present experiences of Jewish students in relation to the NUS but also in higher education more broadly. This will shape the way in which the new team hold the NUS to account in its stated commitment to anti-racism. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the new CUSU sabbatical officer team for 2016-17.