‘I will detoxify student union’
A JEWISH student who is bidding to become a vice-president of the National Union of Students, says she wants to “end the toxic atmosphere” in the organisation.
Last year, Izzy Lenga, who studies theology at the University of Birmingham, accused the NUS of a “shameless attempt to push Jewish students out” of an anti-racism campaign. The 22-year-old also said that the organisation’s National Executive Council was not a “safe space” for Jews. However, she is now standing for the position of vice-president for welfare, a role focusing on issues including student housing, health, and faith.
“It hasn’t always been easy being a Jewish woman in the student movement,” Ms Lenga said.
“I’ve been subject to vile antisemitic and sexist online abuse and have often felt as though the movement isn’t for me simply because of the fact I’m Jewish.”
Izzy Lenga Although Ms Lenga had “been extremely fortunate to work with students and student representatives who consistently stand up for Jewish students”, she said that others within NUS had behaved differently.
“What we’ve tended to see over the last year is a double standard when it comes to tackling antisemitism in the student movement,” she explained. “We hold a much stronger hand when we are in the room rather than outside.
“In an environment where antisemitism has often fallen on deaf ears, we must ensure we have a place at the table and make tackling antisemitism a priority in the student movement.
“It has often been my Judaism that has driven my passion towards building a united movement that works for everyone.” The NUS presidential and vice-presidential elections take place at the union’s annual conference in Brighton next month. It is believed that controversial current president Malia Bouattia will stand for a second term.