In the last few days, UJS has been working with and supporting Jewish students at LSE and Middlesex University to raise concerns to their respective universities and students’ unions regarding the presence of Richard Falk on their campuses. Falk is known to have a past record of using antisemitic rhetoric.
UJS wholeheartedly believes in freedom of speech being upheld but not at the expense of students’ welfare or safety. This principle was violated at Monday’s event at LSE where students were subject to antisemitic abuse from members of the audience who were supporting Falk’s positions, specifically Gilad Atzmon, whose antisemitic record precedes itself. Despite the J-Soc raising valid concerns about the risk posed by Falk prior to the event and the need for LSE to mitigate against them, the university failed in their duty of care to Jewish students and we are extremely disappointed that very little was done to prevent the escalation that occurred. We have been supporting Jewish students at LSE in recent days to ensure the university is taking the appropriate action following the escalation that took place.
In recent days a letter from the Minister for Universities to Universities UK reminded institutions of their responsibility in protecting free speech across campuses, but in no way should this impinge on students’ right to engage and challenge without fear of discrimination or prejudice. UJS is reassured by the strong response from LSE and Middlesex Students’ Unions and the support they have given to Jewish students. We will continue to work with universities and students’ unions to ensure that Jewish students are able to freely, fully and safely engage in all areas of campus life.