UK Students Reject Methods, Findings of New Survey on Jewish Campus Life
by Rachel Frommer
Jewish students in the UK told The Algemeiner on Wednesday why they rejected the methods and findings of a highly touted new survey on Jewish campus life conducted by the UK’s umbrella student organization.
Khulan Dav, a student at the School of Oriental and African Students and an active member of the campus Jewish Society (JSoc), said she did not participate in the National Union of Students’ (NUS) months-long study — the results of which were released Monday — because, “I don’t trust the NUS or its intentions to improve Jewish student experience on campuses.”
Dav added that she would throw out the findings, as they are “not representative.”
“The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) represents 8,500 Jewish students and only 485 self-defining Jewish students responded,” she noted.
The survey, conducted between Nov. 2016 and Feb. 2017 in cooperation with the UJS, found that slightly more than a quarter of respondents are “very or fairly worried” about antisemitic attacks. A majority is not comfortable with students’ unions adopting BDS resolutions and believe that the NUS does not take antisemitism on campus seriously enough.
The report also made a number of recommendations for improving Jewish student life.
Jonathan Manevitch, the president of the University of Glasgow’s Jsoc and a fellow with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, said that the survey’s question-and-answer format “was not particularly useful.”
“It allowed for some nuance — a small range of options in the answers — but it was not at the level needed to properly understand our concerns,” he said. “The Jewish community is not black and white.”
Manevitch added that he doubts the survey will have any practical effect on repairing the strained ties NUS has with Jewish students, especially given the damage that the relationship has sustained since Malia Bouattia — a woman who participated in a conference last month organized in part by a defender of Hamas — was elected its president last year.
“While I certainly think there are those in NUS who want to hear Jewish students’ concerns, engage with us and make universities better for us, they are a definite minority,” said Manevitch. “They exist — I’ve met them — but they are outnumbered.”
“A Jew shouldn’t feel uncomfortable walking into an event in the UK, and the fact is that unless you’re a Jew who denounces Israel, you aren’t comfortable walking into any NUS-related program,” Manevitch said.
As The Algemeiner reported, one presidential candidate running for election at the NUS national conference later this month slammed the organization for its record on Israel and antisemitism.