What the candidates plan for the union
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.
Jessica Truman, 21, Manchester Metropolitan University (former J-Soc president, former UJS regional chair)
Rachel Friend (left) and Jessica Truman, the UJS candidates