What the can­di­dates plan for the union

The Jewish Chronicle - - HOME NEWS - Rachel Friend, 22, Ox­ford Univer­sity (for­mer J-Soc chair in Manch­ester, cur­rent UJS re­gional chair)

Q1: What are the main roles of UJS as you see it?

Q3: What needs to change? Q4: Would you bring back the an­nual res­i­den­tial con­fer­ence? Q5: Would you ex­pand UJS po­lit­i­cal and Is­rael ad­vo­cacy work?

Firstly as a sup­port net­work for J-Socs, its main func­tion. Not stick­ing up posters for UJS, but help­ing J-Socs with ideas, in prac­ti­cal ways like bring­ing food from Lon­don and fi­nan­cially. Se­condly, UJS is a move­ment in and, of it­self, help­ing Jewish stu­dents, many of whom don’t have chance to do so else­where, to meet other Jewish stu­dents.

It does pro­vide sup­port net­works for J-Socs, but it is not achiev­ing its full po­ten­tial. At the mo­ment, there are Is­rael trips and Shab­ba­tonim. Un­like the res­i­den­tial con­fer­ence, th­ese have not died out, which is good.

At the mo­ment it feels very loose. UJS needs to be tight­ened up and made more ef­fi­cient. It should be ar­rang­ing for J-Socs to meet each other, train­ing lo­cal com­mit­tees, and lots of money should be get­ting to

This is not an area than needs ex­pand­ing per se. There are lots of is­sues on cam­puses at the mo­ment, and with­out UJS’s help, they could es­ca­late in to things like J-Socs be­ing banned. But this side of things is a suc­cess at the mo­ment. It does not need re­struc­tur­ing. J-Socs that is not. I have spo­ken to many J-Soc peo­ple who say things like: “There was no food at an event be­cause we couldn’t af­ford it.” They don’t know UJS money is avail­able, and of­ten don’t get it be­cause of in­ef­fi­ciency in the sys­tem. When I was pres­i­dent in Ox­ford, I did not know money was on of­fer, and did not get it. What is also lack­ing is ed­u­ca­tion. It is ap­palling that there is no ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer. I would make sure there is one.

Yes. The road­show is na­tional in a sense, but it does not get a stu- dent from Not­ting­ham meet­ing oth­ers from Glas­gow. It is im­por­tant to have a big na­tional event. In los­ing it, UJS has lost the big push of the year, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to get peo­ple to do things dur­ing the year. We need a big cen­tral fo­cus.

It should be cater­ing for all Jewish stu­dents’ ed­u­ca­tional needs, re­li­gious needs, de­fend­ing and ad­vo­cat­ing on be­half of Is­rael and sup­port­ing Jewish so­ci­eties.

At the mo­ment UJS works very well cam­paign­ing on cam­puses and sup­port­ing Jewish So­ci­eties when things that are po­lit­i­cally prob­lem­atic hap­pen to them. It works well with J-Socs, do­ing more Jewish things on cam­puses. UJS pro­vides the ad­vice and sup­port they need. UJS and J-Socs get on, on the whole, very well.

UJS is go­ing through some changes in try­ing to bring in more peo­ple. The fact that there is not a na­tional event with a na­tional fo­cus presents a chal­lenge. We need to en­cour­age more peo­ple to be­come ac­tivists, though I’m not say­ing that UJS is only a place for ac­tivists. Of­ten there is not a place for peo­ple who just want to be Jewish, so­cialise and learn but with­out be­ing an ac­tivist. We need to ex­pand the niches in Jewish stu­dent life where peo­ple can get in­volved. I would cre­ate a na­tional UJS so­cial ac­tion pro­gramme. I would also bring in an ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer to in­tro­duce fresh ideas. I want to set up a fo­rum for J-Soc com­mit­tees to have con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with and sup­port for each other, to be fa­cil­i­tated by UJS.

A na­tional con­fer­ence is some­thing to strive for when UJS has reached a level when more peo­ple are in­ter­ested in its lead­er­ship, but there’s a rea­son we don’t have one. It is def­i­nitely some­thing in the plan for the fu­ture, and hope­fully the road­show is a step to­wards this.

Yes, def­i­nitely. There are more and more things that Jewish stu­dents are hav­ing to fight. More and more peo­ple need to be in­volved and take on board what is go­ing on. At the end of the day, we must be reach­ing out to more stu­dents.

Pho­tos: Jan Matthews/Lawrence Pur­cell

Jes­sica Tru­man, 21, Manch­ester Metropoli­tan Univer­sity (for­mer J-Soc pres­i­dent, for­mer UJS re­gional chair)

Rachel Friend (left) and Jes­sica Tru­man, the UJS can­di­dates

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