Image: Martin Day / The Boar

Vice-chancellors warned to take action against ‘antisemitism crisis’ on campuses

University vice-chancellors have been warned that they must take action against what has been described as “the worst antisemitism crisis” on campuses in a generation.

At a meeting in Downing Street on 9 May the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, as well as the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, the Communities Secretary, Michael Gove, and Security Minister, Tom Tugendhat, met the heads of 17 universities, including Cambridge, Birmingham, and Sussex.

Here, they discussed the ongoing student movement against the war in Gaza and antisemitism on campuses. Sunak stressed to university heads that he expected them to take a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitic incidents, and protect Jewish students.

The PM’s spokesman said: “He called on universities to remain bastions of tolerance where debate takes place with respect for others and where every student feels safe.”

We have entered a new normal, but not an acceptable normal

Edward Isaacs, President, Union of Jewish Students

Edward Isaacs, President of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), told the roundtable that since Hamas’s 7 October attacks on Israel last year, the UK had experienced “the worst antisemitism crisis on campus that we have seen for a generation.”

“We have entered a new normal, but not an acceptable normal.”

He added: “Campus leaders have often felt unable to stand in allyship with Jewish students, and this has only been compounded by universities often failing to singularly condemn instances of antisemitism, making Jewish students feel alone, marginalised, and vulnerable on campus.”

One vice-chancellor said after participating in the meeting: “It was constructive, friendly, and based on an understanding that there is a shared problem in combating antisemitism and extremism.”

Topics discussed in the summit included the use of disciplinary procedures against students inciting hatred, concerns over the potential for non-students to join campus protests, and the role of the police.

It is unknown whether Stuart Croft, Vice-Chancellor of Warwick, attended the meeting. The University did not respond to The Boar’s inquiry.

Currently, there are protest encampments on at least 20 UK university campuses. Demonstrators have demanded that their universities divest from businesses manufacturing arms to Israel.

[Warwick Stands With Palestine] has asserted it takes a “very vigilant” approach towards antisemitism

The ongoing demonstration at Warwick began on 26 April, having been started by the group Warwick Stands with Palestine.

Speaking to The Boar previously, the protest has asserted it takes a “very vigilant” approach towards antisemitism, and that it has received support from some Jewish students.

For their part, Warwick Jewish Society (JSoc) has said that whilst they support the right of groups to protest, the language used by the protest “far too often crosses the line into promoting hatred and violence.”

The Boar contacted the University of Warwick to ask whether it recognises any actions taken by the demonstrators as antisemitic and whether the University intends to engage with the protest. The University did not respond.


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