Britain’s University of Lincoln Breaks Ties With National Union of Students Over Election of ‘Antisemitic’ President
Students from Britain’s University of Lincoln voted on Monday to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS) in protest over the election of the organization’s new president accused of antisemitism, The Algemeiner has learned.
“As a group of elected officers, we no longer felt confident that the NUS represented the views of our students,” said Hayley Jayne Wilkinson, University of Lincoln Student Union (ULSU) president, in a statement. “We agreed it was necessary to ask our members themselves if they wanted to remain affiliated with NUS. Our members have now told us through their votes in this referendum that they want to disaffiliate.”
NUS President Malia Bouattia has been at the center of controversy for past antisemitic, anti-Israel and terror-sympathizing comments. In 2014, while speaking at a “pro-resistance” event, Bouattia asserted that it is “problematic” to consider that “Palestine will be free” only by means of “non-violent protest” and bemoaned the fact that “resistance” is presented as terrorism. In 2011, while attending the University of Birmingham, she called the school “a Zionist outpost” with the “largest [Jewish Society] in the country.” Prior to her election as NUS president, Bouattia voted against a NUS motion condemning ISIS, because it constituted “blatant Islamophobia.” She has also criticized the “Zionist-led media.”
Bouattia — the first black, female, Muslim president of NUS — has defended herself on several occasions against accusations of antisemitism and advocating for violence against Israel. In an open letter to Jewish NUS members prior to her election, Bouattia wrote, “I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is not me taking issue with being Jewish.” However, in her first interview as acting NUS president in April, Bouattia refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, leaving many NUS members wondering in what direction she will lead the national student organization.
“Put simply, this debate has been about what students want from the organization that represents them nationally and, for some time, we have felt that the focus of debate within NUS has been far removed from the issues that our students tell us are important to them every day on campus,” Wilkinson said.
The University of Lincoln is one of several British academic institutions taking part in referendums to disaffiliate from the NUS. Top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, will be voting on whether to break ties with the organization over Bouattia’s remarks. According to the ULSU, 881 people voted against affiliating with NUS and 804 in favor, representing 12.6 percent of ULSU members.