Following a string of controversies surrounding the National Union of Students (NUS) and its leadership, over twenty former Presidents of the union have written to its current President to press her to deal with the concerns of Jewish students.
Signatories to the letter include Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, former Education Secretary Charles Clarke, former Labour MP Stephen Twigg and columnist David Aaronovitch.
In their letter to current NUS President Larissa Kennedy, they express their “serious concerns about antisemitism”.
“We are writing to you privately as former presidents with serious concerns about antisemitism, the safety and treatment of Jewish students at NUS events and within your democracy, and the way in which NUS is responding to these concerns,” the letter says.
It is clear, the letter observes, that NUS has “a serious and significant problem.”
The letter comes as NUS faces scrutiny over its record in relation to Jewish students and amidst a series of controversies in connection with antisemitism. In one recent scandal, the rapper Kareem Dennis, known as Lowkey, was due to headline NUS’s centenary conference last month. After initially dismissing the concerns of Jewish students, who pointed out the rapper’s inflammatory record, the union came under media scrutiny and eventually Mr Dennis withdrew from the event. As the scandal erupted, Robert Halfon MP excoriated NUS for failing to send a representative to attend a hearing held by the Education Select Committee, which he chairs.
This scandal was immediately followed by the election of Shaima Dallali as NUS’s new President, despite her history of antisemitic tweets and other inflammatory social media posts. Prior to the election, she apologised for one such tweet.
Earlier this week, Mr Halfon wrote to the Charity Commission calling together with Campaign Against Antisemitism for a statutory inquiry into NUS. The full dossier on NUS, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, can be read here.
If any students are concerned about antisemitism on campus or need assistance, they can call us on 0330 822 0321, or e-mail [email protected]