Jewish students “disgusted” after Warwick University academics pass motion to challenge International Definition of Antisemitism
Jewish students have been left feeling “disgusted” after academic staff at the University of Warwick passed a motion to challenge the International Definition of Antisemitism.
More than 200 members of the University of Warwick Assembly – the representative body of the University’s academic staff – voted to “overwhelmingly” pass the motion on 21st June.
Members of staff also called upon the University to create a working group designed to handle matters relating to all allegations of antisemitism and other forms of racism that might be made against staff and students.
As a result, an amendment that called for the application of the Definition to be suspended in disciplinary matters was also passed until the findings from the working group could be reported back at the end of the year.
Speaking in support of the motion, Professor Maureen Freely of the Warwick Writing Programme, School of Creative Arts, Performance, and Visual Cultures said: “We are thrilled that this motion passed…the [D]efinition is not fit for purpose.”
She added: “The working party will give us the chance to develop an integrated set of policies that will balance academic freedom with our statutory and moral duty to protect all members of our community.”
A spokesperson for the Warwick Jewish society spoke of their disappointment to the news, saying: “We are absolutely disgusted with Warwick University Assembly’s rejection of the [D]efinition of antisemitism…this sends a clear message that they are not willing to listen to Jewish students and, frankly, hold us in contempt for simply trying to define prejudice against us.”
However, they also said in a separate statement that they “welcomed the University Assembly’s overwhelming vote to establish a working party that will make recommendations on the handling of allegations of all forms of racism, including antisemitism.”
The University has since released a statement clarifying that the University’s Assembly is not a decision-making body, and that motions are not binding. They have also stated that the Definition will continue to be utilised in disciplinary matters relating to antisemitism.
Last December, dubious disciplinary charges against a Jewish student who complained about antisemitism were dropped by the University.
In March, the University’s official Twitter account ‘liked’ a tweet endorsing inflammatory comments by the academic and conspiracy theorist David Miller, with the University subsequently deleting the ‘like’ and blaming “unauthorised access” to the account.
Last month, a controversial Warwick lecturer reportedly claimed that the Definition is part of a Conservative plot to “legitimate racist speech and de-legitimate anti-racist and anti-colonial research, teaching and activism”.
In the past, other concerns have been raised over the University’s failure to address a scandal over a group chat which gained national attention, in which antisemitic, misogynistic, abusive and threatening messages, including rape threats, were uncovered.
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by universities.
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].