Stu­dent leader will give power­back­tograss­roots

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY CHAR­LOTTE OLIVER

THE UNION of Jewish Stu­dents must be more ac­count­able to its mem­bers and should do more to pro­mote grass­roots ini­tia­tives, ac­cord­ing to its new pres­i­dent.

Ella Rose out­lined her de­sire to hand power back to stu­dents and make UJS more rep­re­sen­ta­tive af­ter tak­ing up her role last week.

Ms Rose, 21, said: “It’s not about bring­ing stu­dents to UJS, it’s about bring­ing UJS back to the stu­dents. People my age know bet­ter than any­one what people my age need.”

Ms Rose, a his­tory and pol­i­tics grad­u­ate from Not­ting­ham Univer­sity, said her com­mit­ment to peer lead­er­ship had de­vel­oped through years of in­volve­ment with the BBYO youth move­ment, whose “val­ues for in­clu­siv­ity and grass­roots ac­tion al­ways meant a lot to me”.

Her plan over her year in charge is to give the union’s 3,000 mem­bers the chance to pro­vide on­line feed­back and reg­u­lar ap­praisals of its pro­fes­sional staff.

Ms Rose, from Bushey, Hert­ford­shire, said: “My elec­tion cam­paign taught me so much about a mem­ber­ship or­gan­i­sa­tion and what it means to be con­nected to people up and down the coun­try.

“The work that many Jewish stu­dents put into cam­pus ac­tivism is in­cred­i­ble — it can be a full-time job for some people. That is some­thing I want to feed out to the wider com­mu­nity — that we are not all lazy stu­dents.”

Ms Rose said a pri­or­ity was rais­ing UJS’ pro­file on cam­pus, as well as en­cour­ag­ing fur­ther stu­dent en­gage­ment with Is­rael.

“I want to be on cam­puses as much as I can and in­crease our brand aware­ness,” she said. “I also want to make sure we’re wear­ing the UJS logo wher­ever we are. I may be able to speak to 20 people, but I can be seen by 100.”

She added: “Last year, UJS en­gaged with 1,200 Jewish stu­dents on Is­rael. I in­tend to im­prove on that. Is­rael is part of our Ju­daism, her­itage and cul­ture — and we don’t need to hide that on cam­pus.”

Ms Rose also in­tends to en­able Jewish stu­dents who study abroad to main­tain a Jewish life when they are thou­sands of miles from home.

“We have a large net­work of people at our dis­posal who have al­ready trav­elled around the world.

“We’ll start by build­ing up a data­base and then cre­ate an in­ter­ac­tive re­source on our web­site so that if, say, you click on ‘Buenos Aires’, you’ll find out about the mas­sive Jewish com­mu­nity they have there.”

Work will also take place to strengthen the union’s three lib­er­a­tion net­works — which cam­paign for women and gay and dis­abled stu­dents — and to in­tro­duce a group for Pro­gres­sive stu­dents.

“Some people think that if you are not Ortho­dox, then the union isn’t for you,” she said. “That’s just not true. And they need this push to know they are not in the mi­nor­ity.”

Ms Rose is the first fe­male UJS pres­i­dent for seven years. She said she was de­ter­mined to pro­mote the role of women as com­mu­nity lead­ers.

“I would like to cre­ate a women in lead­er­ship re­source for JSocs to take up, to pro­vide plat­forms for en­gag­ing, in­spir­ing fe­male lead­ers who can talk about the strug­gles they have faced and how they feel as leading fig­ures in the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“But right now, we have a fe­male pres­i­dent of the UK union, as well as the South African, Aus­tralian, Euro­pean and Aus­tralian unions, so I think we’re do­ing OK.”

New UJS pres­i­dent Ella Rose wants stu­dents to ap­praise union staff

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