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
1. Three more motions at three more universities have been passed by students:
- at University of Birmingham Guild Council meeting on 19th June, with the backing of students from the university’s Black and Ethnic Minorities Association (BEMA)
- at London Metropolitan University, September. 2014
London Met Student Union (METSU) made it a priority campaign
and mandated sabbatical office to write to the Vice Chancellor who replied saying he had taken note of students concerns about the organisation (read London Met VC, Professor John Raftery’s letter here)
- at Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA) in November 2014
This brings the total to 13 universities which officially condemn SR, as well as the Black Students Campaign (representing over a million students) and the NUS itself which has 7 million student members. See the complete list here.
2. Raheem Kassam, who directed Student Rights from 2009 to early 2014, joined UKIP. He was reportedly to be an adviser to Niger Farage. To the students who were familiar with his politics this came as no surprise but it does neatly illustrate how hollow the organisation’s claims to be ‘against extremism’ are. According to its website, it is now run only by Rupert Sutton.
3. To replace Kassam, Student Rights decided, naturally, to recruit an unpaid intern. No doubt some lucky student will have had a great time working for free...so much for student rights. It’s interesting to compare the ad SR placed in October 2014 (after Real Student Rights exposed it as a project of the Henry Jackson Society) with the one it placed on the same site the previous year.
(Click on the image to enlarge)
As you can see, in the otherwise identical earlier ad, Student Rights neglected, somehow, to mention that it was part of the Henry Jackson Society – but thanks to the RSR campaign in the more recent ad it has come clean and admitted it is part of the think tank, based within the same office.The HJS in fact now lists Student Rights on its website under ‘our projects’ though SR itself still carries no explanation of the interests it really represents.
4. You might remember that MP Tom Brake quit the advisory board of Student Rights in summer last year. This year a number of other advisers have also quietly quit, apparently after the NUS voted to condemn the organisation. Its board has now dwindled to just 6 people, one of whom is HJS director Alan Mendoza(!) while another, Alex Radzyner, appears to be a theatre blogger – so very qualified in issues of freedom of speech and student rights then… Indeed, SR’s reputation has sunk so low that even Ghaffar Hussain of the Quilliam Foundation no longer wants to be associated with it.
Another ‘spot the difference’. (Click on the image to enlarge)