Last Friday Student Rights was exposed as a front for the Henry Jackson Society on national television (first clip).
Although Channel 4 used the euphemistic phrase ‘shares and office with’, and didn’t mention the fact that it has also received funds from the HJS, the fact that it is a project of the right wing think tank will have been clear to most viewers.
Up until Friday the mainstream media had never mentioned the HJS link.
Student Rights was also forced to deny claims that it is Islamophobic. This was probably largely thanks to the hard work of all the students involved in the Real Student Rights campaign who have so far successfully passed motions at three universities in the space of two weeks.
The passage of the RSR motion at LSE was mentioned by Channel 4 and union president Jay Stoll, when asked if he thought the group was Islamophobic, said ‘We’ve got to call a spade a spade…and that’s what it is, yes, absolutely.’
By giving students the chance to air their views and putting these accusations to Student Rights, the Channel 4 reporter Paul Mason produced what was probably the first balanced news report on the controversy generated by Student Rights’ shoddy research to date.
Real Student Rights does not have a position on gender segregation but views the current public debate, provoked by Student Rights, as at least in part symptomatic of the climate of Islamophobia in Britain today. We will continue to campaign against Student Rights and against Islamophobia and encourage students to pass the RSR motion at their students union and sign and circulate the RSR petition.
UPDATE: A new Huffington Post blog, entitled ‘Ironically names “Student Rights” group expose by actual students’, celebrates the success of the Real Student Rights campaign so far and underlines why it’s important to continue to oppose ‘Student Rights’ and Islamophobia on campus. It also notes that the only previous admission of SR’s links to HJS wasmade by Rupert Sutton, Student Rights’ researcher, in the Facebook thread below (click to enlarge image).
The article asserts that Sutton’s response – that Student Rights has ‘never denied it is a project of HJS’ is ‘totally inadequate’, and hardly a demonstration of transparency or accountability. Arguing that it should not be down to students to point out the affiliations or funding of an organisation operating in the public sphere, it challenges Student Rights to explain:
- Why, up till now, it has hidden the fact that it is a Henry Jackson Society project from students and the media?
- Why it has referred to itself here and in emails to universities obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, as ‘independent’, if it is in fact, in Sutton’s words ‘a project of the HJS’, receives money from the think tank, and shares its office?
- Why does it not register with Companies House or the Charity Commission or publish its own financial accounts?
It also asks of the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank ostensibly concerned with weighty foreign policy issues, why it wants a vehicle to monitor UK university campuses, and why set up a non-transparent front group to do so?