The NUS (National Union of Students) passed a motion officially condemning ‘Student Rights’, the campus watchdog arm of the Henry Jackson Society, on Tuesday 13 May 2014.
Media coverage in The Independent, Huffington Post, The Guardian students blog and Times Higher Education and National Student follow. Here’s a re-cap.
As 2014 draws to a close, here’s an update on progress made by the Real Student Rights (RSR) campaign since the major victories in May of getting NUS to condemn Henry Jackson Society front group ‘Student Rights’ (SR).
1. Three more motions passed against SR by students
2. SR director Raheem Kassam joined UKIP
3. SR now admits it is part of the Henry Jackson Society
4. Four members of SR’s board have quit since the start of the year
On Monday Bristol University students union joined the growing list of universities whose students have officially condemned the group ‘Student Rights’.
Coming hot on the heels of similar motions at Greenwich and Imperial, the Bristol students’ vote on 2 June brings the total number of individual unis to have officially passed policies against the organisation to 10.
Following the NUS National Executive Council’s decision last week to denounce Student Rights, the group received condemnation from another national student organisation, further damaging what little credibility it still held.
This weekend the Black Students’ Campaign – an autonomous Liberation campaign of the NUS representing over one million students of African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean descent – held their annual summer conference at the University of Warwick; the largest gathering in Europe of ‘Black’ students with delegates representing over 100 HE and FE students’ unions across the UK present.
There, a motion amendment proposed by Middlesex Students’ Union entitled 200b ‘Condemn Student Rights‘ was passed by Conference as part of wider Anti-Racism policy, with zero votes in opposition and two in abstention.
Journalist Nafeez Ahmed has penned two articles in The Guardian recently which put Student Rights and its parent organisation, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) think tank, in context.
Students at King’s College London (KCL) tonight passed a motion to condemn the group ‘Student Rights’, an arm of the Henry Jackson Society.
The motion was carried by a whopping 340 votes to 41 at the student general meeting (SGM).
Students at Queen Mary, University of London made their SU the 6th to officially condemn ‘Student Rights’ yesterday (Thursday 20 March 2014).
At their Annual General Meeting, students at QMSU voted in favour of the motion by what one student described as a ‘crushing majority’ (we will confirm exact figures and update ASAP!)
See the motion as it was proposed here (number 6.9 ‘Student Rights – page 45)
Five other universities have already passed the ‘Real Student Rights’. They are LSE, Birkbeck, UCL, Goldsmiths and Kingston University.
A statement issued jointly by the Islamic Society and LGBT Network of Nottingham University has rejected ‘Student Rights’ and others who seek to stir up antagonism and create a divisive atmosphere on campus.
Read about it in Huffington Post here.
Read about it in Impact, the student newspaper at Nottingham uni, here.
Read the original statement here.
Real Student Rights is publishing a series of excerpts from correspondence between the Henry Jackson Society group ‘Student Rights’ and various universities obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
A quick round up of the first few interesting pieces of information they expose:
1. Student Rights tried to get one university to pass on details of a student event – read more here.
2. Student Rights encouraged a university to cancel a week long series of events critiquing the ‘war on terror’ for ‘fuelling grievances against the West’ – read more here.
3. ‘Not exactly a rigorous piece of academic research’ – the verdict of one university staff member on Student Rights research revealed – read more here.
4. Despite recently admitting to being a project of the Henry Jackson Society, Student Rights previously described itself in emails to universities as ‘independent’ – read more here.
After a Freedom of Information request to a number of universities for correspondence to, from, or about the ‘anti-extremism’ group Student Rights, it has emerged that at least some university staff, like students involved in the Real Student Rights campaign, doubt the validity of the Henry Jackson Society group’s research.
Particularly telling is one email released under FOI by Kingston University, where students last week passed a motion condemning Student Rights. Although the names have been redacted, the email (composed after a Student Rights report named Kingston as one campus where supposed ‘extremism’ existed) was sent to two members of the university’s senior management team (SMT) . In it, an unnamed staff member observed:
It’s not exactly a rigorous piece of academic research!
It appears to consist of looking at a few Twitter and Facebook accounts in the Kingston case this was someone who ‘liked’ or ‘shared’ a few articles that looked as the Islamic approach to economics and other subjects with a very tenuous link to Hitzbut Tahrir.
This suggests that not only students but some staff too are highly skeptical of Student Rights research. Monitoring the social media pages of certain student groups and societies is not illegal, but it arguably does tell us something about how reliable – or otherwise – the evidence base is for the conclusions drawn by Student Rights.