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Not Guilty of In – Difference to Anti-Semitism

An independently chaired review has cleared the National Union of Students (NUS) of being apathetic to anti-Semitism.

The UK’s largest student representative body has been under the spotlight since April this year when three key committee members resigned, citing a number of grievances, which included the slow and ineffective response to the pamphleteering of anti-Semitic literature at the 2005 NUS conference.

National President of the NUS, Kat Fletcher, who herself was wrongly accused of using anti-Semitic remarks to win votes at the last presidential election, was delighted with the outcome of the assessment, which concluded that although there were certain occasions when a swifter and more effective response was needed, they in no means demonstrated apathy towards anti-Semitism.

Equal Representation

Mr Marco Henry, who chaired the review which was set up in response to the resignations as well as issues identified in a letter from the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), felt that the NUS stood firmly by its values of equal representation for all students regardless of race, creed or religion. He did however recommend the development of a code of practice and a clear definition of committee functions to ensure consistency when dealing with discriminatory behaviour, and save future embarrassment.

Using the example of two “offensive” and “anti-Semitic” leaflets, which had been distributed at the annual conference from the stall of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), Marco said that the confusion surrounding the roles and responsibilities of the Committee who had received the complaints, contributed to the delay and eventual ineffective removal of the literature.

Fletcher Glad of Enquiry Verdict

“I am grateful to the chair for the thoroughness of his inquiry and pleased that he has found an organisation committed to diversity and determined in its fight for equality for all,” said Kat. She confirmed that the NUS is committed to implementing the necessary changes as advised by the independent panel and was keen to point out the importance of working alongside the UJS.

UJS Campaigns Organiser, Mitch Simmons welcomed the review and also signalled his intent to tackle discrimination jointly with the NUS; “I am pleased that the inquiry has taken on board the concerns of Jewish students “¦I look forward to re-establishing a close working relationship with NUS President, Kat Fletcher, for the benefit of all minority students.”

Phillip Byrne, Union Affairs Correspondent

Welcome the review in the FE Blog

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