Hull University Becomes Third UK School to Disaffiliate From National Union of Students Over ‘Antisemitic’ New President
Hull University on Tuesday became the third school in Britain to disaffiliate from the country’s largest student organization, due to the group’s new president, surrounding whom there have been allegations of antisemitism.
According to a statement by Hull University Union, following a school-wide referendum, students voted overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS), with 811 in favor of disaffiliation and 476 against. Hull follows similar decisions by students at the University of Lincoln and Newcastle University to cut ties with NUS over its president, Malia Bouattia.
Bouattia has been under intense scrutiny over past antisemitic, anti-Israel and terror-sympathizing comments. In 2011, Bouattia referred to the University of Birmingham as a “Zionist outpost” and, in 2014, advocated against “non-violent protest” against Israel. Prior to her election as NUS president, Bouattia voted against an NUS motion condemning ISIS, saying it constituted “blatant Islamophobia.”
The NUS president has vehemently denied all allegations of antisemitism. Prior to her election, in an open letter to Jewish NUS members, Bouattia wrote, “I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is not me taking issue with being Jewish.” In April, Bouattia further added to the controversy when she refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist during her first official interview as NUS president.
The NUS is campaigning hard against disaffiliation, as it stands to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds in membership fees and revenue. On Twitter, for example, NUS published a video highlighting all the reasons students should vote to remain with the organization. Some one dozen other universities across the country will be holding disaffiliation referendums, including Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Westminster and Edinburgh. Students at Cambridge began casting their votes on Tuesday, with polls closing on Friday.
Cambridge University’s Student Union (CUSU) issued an open letter on Monday to the NUS, condemning “what ha[ve] been deemed examples of antisemitism” by Bouattia, the student newspaper Varsity reported. CUSU called on NUS “to do more to protect the rightful place of Jewish students within the student movement” and take “steps to fully ensure reports of antisemitism within the organization are dealt with.”
Earlier this month, students at the University of Exeter, the Warwick School and the University of Surrey voted to remain with the NUS. The NUS represents more than 7 million college students in the UK.