Last year's Lessons from Auschwitz trip, in which 17 Sabbatical Officers and student leaders joined UJS and HET in Poland
UJS is excited to announce that we are substantially expanding our educational programme combatting campus antisemitism, in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust. This has been made possible thanks to a £144,000+ grant from the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced the grant on Friday, when he said:
‘A crucial part of learning from the past is making sure that future generations are as involved as possible – that is why I am pleased to announce new funding to help universities tackle anti-Semitism.’
We’ll be delivering the programme in partnership with HET, and it will involve 200 students and university leaders from across the country visiting the former Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Upon their return, the participants will take part in a seminar which will deal explicitly with campus issues and how to identify and tackle antisemitism.
UJS President Josh Holt welcomed the news, saying:
‘Our partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust has taken over 50 national student leaders to Auschwitz. This continues our antiracist education work that UJS has been at the forefront of for many decades.
‘UJS are very grateful that our partnership with HET is being recognised and supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The resources committed today will enable a substantial expansion of student and university leaders receiving the education and training needed to combat antisemitism and prejudice on campus.
‘Sadly we have seen a distressing increase in swastika graffiti, Holocaust denial literature and politicisation of the Holocaust on some UK campuses. We are determined to combat this and welcome this significant contribution to our longstanding work bringing students of all faiths and backgrounds together to create cohesive campus communities.’
Karen Pollock, CEO of HET also welcomed this opportunity to expand the education we are offering student and university leadership:
‘Antisemitism remains a real challenge on campus and tackling it is crucial. We know how important it is to support those people on the frontline dealing with it day in day out, and that is why we are proud to partner with the Union of Jewish Students on this important initiative – to fight antisemitism head on.
‘Thanks to the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government, we will jointly lead a specialised course which will include taking student and university leaders to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau so that they can see with their own eyes where antisemitism has led in the past – let’s make a difference.’
The programme we will be expanding has previously included four pilot projects with national student leadership, including trips to Auschwitz. NUS President Shakira Martin’s discusses her trip in this video. Vonnie Sandlan, then NUS Scotland President, took part in one such trip in 2016; she wrote about the impact of her experience in a blog titled ‘I can’t clean my boots.’ Robbie Young, NUS Vice-President Society and Citizenship, who participated in the trip when he was NUS’ LGBT Officer, wrote ‘Every Student Needs to Be Able to Learn the Lessons From History’ which can be read here.
Participants in these previous pilot programmes have facilitated dozens of events and initiatives educating about the Holocaust and addressing hatred and prejudice. Combined, this activity has reached a further 5000 students on over 30 campuses across the UK.
Alongside this programme, which we are excited to continue delivering with the support of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, we are proud to have recently launched the #OurLivingMemory campaign. In partnership with HET and NUS, the campaign encourages students from different backgrounds to take responsibility for leading Holocaust education. #OurLivingMemory also seeks to ensure campus groups partner on Holocaust commemoration which covers the distinct manner in which particular groups were persecuted by the Nazis. Read more about #OurLivingMemory here.