Leeds University Students Say Antisemitism Resolution Won’t Face Campus-Wide Referendum
Student leaders at the University of Leeds in England expressed solidarity on Thursday with Jewish peers and announced that a referendum on a resolution to combat antisemitism would not take place.
The announcement addressed fears raised earlier this week after the Leeds University Union (LUU) failed to pass a motion brought forward by the Leeds Jewish Society, which sought to increase student awareness of antisemitism, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Per LUU rules, the measure was consequently set to face a campus-wide vote, facing criticism from groups including the Leeds Labour Students Committee.
Jewish people, “like any minority, should be free to define their own oppression,” the committee said. “It should not be up for a vote, during which the entire student population (the vast majority of whom are not Jewish), will have a say.”
Emma Jacobs, who introduced the resolution on Monday night, said she faced sniggers from some LUU members and was asked to withdraw the motion.
“After discussion, a collective decision has been reached that a referendum on the idea will not be happening,” LUU said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the content of the resolution “is already in place in LUU.”
“Jewish and Hebrew culture is a regular feature of the LUU events calendar which enriches our Union,” the union said. “We will always recognize Holocaust Memorial Day in our calendar and actively seek guidance from students and the Holocaust Educational Trust to express this appropriately.”
In a joint statement, the Leeds Jewish Society and Union of Jewish Students, which represents Jewish societies across the United Kingdom, applauded the LUU’s position.
“In recognition that LUU already commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day, provides antisemitism training and uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, a referendum has been prevented, which would have caused great distress to Jewish students,” they stated. “We are confident that Jewish students at Leeds University will continue to thrive, and that Leeds will continue to be a hub for a vibrant and diverse Jewish life on campus.”