What has happened?
In May 2022, NUS commissioned Rebecca Tuck KC to lead an independent investigation looking at recent allegations of antisemitism as well as historic matters and broader culture. NUS worked closely with the Union of Jewish Students throughout. The KC has now completed her investigation and has published her report. Alongside the report, NUS have published an Antisemitism Action Plan that sets out how it will tackle antisemitism and ensure that Jewish students are welcome and safe in all corners of the student movement.
Is NUS antisemitic?
As Rebecca Tuck KC’s independent investigation report shows there have been shocking incidents of antisemitism within the student movement, including within NUS. This difficult truth brings us clarity to act with confidence to tackle antisemitism head on. There is no place for antisemitism within NUS and we are committed change, which is why we have adopted in full all of the recommendations made in the report as part of our action plan.
Will NUS apologise to Jewish students?
Yes – without hesitation or reservation. NUS must now take responsibility for the ways in which we have let Jewish students down. The KC’s report highlights many instances where Jewish students were hurt by the very organisation that should be defending them. We are deeply sorry. But an apology is not enough. That is why we have published an Antisemitism Action Plan along with an external Advisory Panel who will make sure that the plan gets delivered in full over a long period of time.
Will NUS continue to adopt the IHRA Definition?
Yes. Following its adoption by NUS National Conference, NUS’ internal policies include a commitment to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. NUS is also adopting the KC’s recommendations in full as part of our action plan to tackle antisemitism within NUS and the student movement.
What happens next?
NUS will be implementing the Antisemitism Action Plan which includes all of the KC’s recommendations and sets out a long-term plan under five key areas of work. It cannot be left to Jewish students to tackle antisemitism alone. NUS will be working closely with Students’ Unions, partners in education and politics to play our role in a wider effort to tackle antisemitism in British society.
How will NUS ensure that the findings of the report and the action plan actually get delivered in full over a long period of time?
We fully accept the findings of the report but recognise that there is no quick fix. This is why we have committed to a long-term plan for meaningful change and have set specific timings and assigned responsibilities for each aspect of our action plan. We have tried to provide ways forward for each of the challenges highlighted by Rebecca Tuck KC’s recommendations and are committed to taking on feedback from interested parties to ensure that our response is as comprehensive as possible. We are also setting up an external Advisory Panel to scrutinise the plan and oversee its implementation. We welcome any feedback people may have. Get in touch via [email protected].
What should students do if they experience or witness antisemitism in NUS going forward?
Tell someone and report it. We take any allegations of antisemitism very seriously and urge anyone with a specific complaint to come forward using our reporting processes. Our hope is that our action plan will help to prevent future instances of antisemitism and make sure NUS deals with antisemitism properly when it occurs. Jewish students have the right to feel safe and welcome within the student movement.
Will more information be made available about the allegations and incidents in the KC’s report?
The KC’s independent report is published in full and without redactions. It is extremely thorough, detailed, and comprehensive and as such we won’t be adding any further detail beyond the report itself. NUS fully accepts all of the findings of the report and are committed to carrying forward the recommendations – all of which have been accepted as part of our action plan – to ensure that we are able to prevent future instances of antisemitism.
How much did the process cost?
We are committed to making meaningful, long-lasting change to tackle antisemitism in all its forms across the breadth and depth of the student movement. As such, we have put time, money and resources into a fully independent and thorough investigation.
Will there be a similar process looking at Islamophobia?
We take any allegations of discrimination very seriously, as demonstrated by this independent report and the many occasions where NUS has opened itself up to scrutiny, reflection and change over our 100 years history. We are committed to a new piece of work on Islamophobia. This piece of work will need appropriate time and resource and will need to be developed in partnership with FOSIS and Muslim students and sabbs. We urge anyone with a specific complaint or urgent issue regarding Islamophobia or any other discrimination to come forward using our reporting processes. Contact us at [email protected].
Will students be stopped from talking about Israel and Palestine or campaigning on Palestinian causes?
No. NUS has a proud history of internationalism, based on our values of solidarity, collectivism, and anti-oppression. It is in this tradition that students discuss and campaign on causes relating to Israel and Palestine. It is also in this tradition that we must work hard to ensure that debates and campaigns are inclusive and don’t cause harm to others.
For the absolute avoidance of doubt, NUS fully supports the right of students to campaign on Palestinian causes. Debates around Israel and Palestine in themselves are not antisemitic, neither is campaigning around Palestine. And disagreeing isn’t the same thing as discriminating. But not everyone is clear on where the lines are. That’s why we will be developing guidance and education materials for students and students’ unions to provide the clarity that will facilitate healthy dialogue and campaigning in an inclusive way. Our aim is for Jewish students to feel confident that when Israel and Palestine come up, they won’t be targeted or discriminated against. And for activists (who may also be Jewish students) to feel confident that their speech and actions aren’t antisemitic. Let us never forget that we are all stronger when students across the political spectrum are united around shared values of solidarity, collectivism, and anti-oppression.
Will there be a President by-election this year?
No. The KC’s report makes clear and specific recommendations around how NUS conducts its elections for full time officer roles and it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to run an election before implementing the changes.
The post will remain vacant until the next 2-year election cycle which will be at National Conference next year (2024). The remaining six full-time officers will continue to lead NUS and will drive the implementation of the Antisemitism Action Plan with Chloe Field (VP Higher Education) as Chair of the NUS UK Board and Chloe Ferguson (NUS-USI President) as Chair of the NUS Charity Board.
NUS remains student led, as it always has been. A team of six elected student officers will lead NUS until the next elections take place in 2024. The organisation has full confidence in the elected officer team, who have already navigated a challenging situation whilst maintaining a high-profile campaign on the cost of living crisis.