The University of Warwick Students’ Union has released a passionate statement calling on the university to think again after Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Croft refused to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism because it does not offer “any added value.”
In its statement, the Warwick Students’ Union regretted that the university would not be adopting the Definition and would rely instead on the “framework of the values and principles developed over the past year to determine its response to allegations of racial discrimination and hate crime,” which the SU itself was “heavily involved” in producing.
However, the Students’ Union went on to note that “blanket terms like ‘values’ and ‘respect’ have always been subject to ambiguity and debate…[and do] not take into account the severity and nuance that often accompanies racial discrimination.” The SU further noted that “when working on the revamped Sexual Misconduct policy and procedures, it was widely agreed that a specific definition of sexual misconduct was a given for an effective process to be formulated.”
Similarly, the Students’ Union argued, “we cannot therefore place our trust in the University to take racism seriously – particularly in the area of discipline – without an equally specific definition of what racial discrimination actually entails. It is unacceptable for victims of racism to constantly have to explain and unpack their experiences in order to be taken seriously.”
The statement went on to observe that the Universities Minister wrote to all UK universities calling on them to implement the Definition in full, that the SU itself adopted it following a student vote in 2016, that the SU has lobbied the university to follow suit, that the National Union of Students and the Union of Jewish Students have also recommended its adoption, and that Universities UK, which represents institutions of higher education, has also called on universities to consider adopting the Definition. The SU therefore called again for “specific definitions of racial discrimination” to be adopted by the university.
In December, the University of Bristol adopted the Definition, after a controversial debate. University College London has also adopted the Definition, following a call on universities to adopt the Definition by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick.
Antisemitism at universities has long been a major focus for Campaign Against Antisemitism, however this year we will elevate it to one of our three major national strategic priorities. This will include working with university administrations to persuade them to formally adopt the Definition.