This kind of sup­port is not what stu­dents need

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

I DO not want to un­der­state the sig­nif­i­cant con­cerns about an­tisemitism on cer­tain univer­sity cam­puses. How­ever, at­ti­tudes ex­pressed within this com­mu­nity that in­ter­pret this prej­u­dice as a strong sig­nal that Jewish stu­dents should not con­sider study­ing at par­tic­u­lar in­sti­tu­tions are mis­guided and un­jus­ti­fied.

Some per­ceive that these con­cerns over an­tisemitism en­com­pass the en­tirety of univer­sity life. But this view dis­re­gards the tremen­dous work of Jewish So­ci­eties, and ig­nores the ac­tive con­tri­bu­tion of Jewish stu­dents to cam­pus ac­tiv­i­ties.

Those who be­lieve that Jewish stu­dents should aban­don uni­ver­si­ties in the face of in­tol­er­ance do not ac­knowl­edge the work un­der­taken by ded­i­cated in­di­vid­u­als, JSocs and the UJS.

From those seek­ing to es­tab­lish long-term re­la­tion­ships with univer­sity bod­ies, to those who run an­tisemitism-aware­ness cam­paigns, Jewish stu­dents ac­tively stand up to prej­u­dice and in do­ing so, pro­vide a re­sponse to those who un­der­value this work.

The is­sues stu­dents face are of­ten mul­ti­fac­eted and com­plex. They de­mand dis­tinct so­lu­tions and care­ful di­a­logue, not gen­er­alised quick-fire tweets.

This does not mean that stu­dents wish to refuse guid­ance and sup­port from the wider com­mu­nity. Univer­sity life is very de­mand­ing, with the ma­jor­ity of Jewish stu­dents want­ing to pri­ori­tise work­ing on their de­gree and em­brac­ing typ­i­cal stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ences. The preva­lence of an­tisemitism on cam­puses ne­ces­si­tates res­o­lute ac­tion, and it is vi­tal stu­dents are made aware of or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als who are pre­pared to as­sist them.

None­the­less, while it is coun­ter­pro­duc­tive for Jewish stu­dents to un­der­take this chal­lenge alone, it is fun­da­men­tal that this sup­port is col­lab­o­ra­tive, rather than im­posed from above.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions which seek to act on be­half of the en­tire Jewish com­mu­nity,

Hannah Kauf­man in­clud­ing stu­dents, must recog­nise that this rep­re­sen­ta­tion re­quires un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues and fre­quent con­sul­ta­tion with all mem­bers. With­out this they can­not guar­an­tee that they will act in the best in­ter­ests of those who they seek to rep­re­sent.

Re­cent state­ments pub­lished by or­gan­i­sa­tions that state Jewish stu­dents should refuse to study at cer­tain in­sti­tu­tions, such as the LSE — put out with­out con­fer­ring with stu­dents first — can have the po­ten­tial to dam­age valu­able re­la­tion­ships within uni­ver­si­ties.

It is es­sen­tial that Jewish fig­ures and or­gan­i­sa­tions recog­nise the ur­gent need to act in a more in­clu­sive and sup­port­ive man­ner to­wards all Jewish stu­dents — oth­er­wise the cur­rent Jewish lead­er­ship risks dis­heart­en­ing the next gen­er­a­tion.

Hannah Kauf­man is a sec­ond-year stu­dent at the LSE and pres­i­dent of the cam­pus Jewish So­ci­ety

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