Simon Friend's blog



University College London’s AGM rescheduled

By Simon Friend, February 12, 2009

After being cancelled because of heavy snow, University College London’s AGM has been rescheduled for a Friday afternoon — February 27. Two motions have been tabled on the Gaza conflict. The Friends of Palestine Society want to “mandate the UCL academic affairs officer to write to the Provost of the university on behalf of the union… condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza, as well as demanding that old books and computers are sent to universities in Gaza and scholarships offered to Palestinian students”.

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Durham JSoc boycott motion defeated

By Simon Friend, February 12, 2009

After a hard-fought campaign by Durham JSoc, a motion for their union to boycott Israeli goods has been defeated in a university-wide referendum by 726 votes to 525. Initially, the issue was due to be decided at a union council meeting, but the demand for a referendum was so high that all students were given the chance to vote. Durham JSoc, one of the fastest-growing JSocs in the UK, distributed around 4,000 flyers detailing their objections and held an emergency forum to give students the opportunity to debate the issue.

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Students head to Parliament over antisemitism

By Simon Friend, January 30, 2009

This week saw scores of Jewish students head to Parliament to speak to their home and campus MPs about the state of antisemitism in British universities, as well as other general issues of student life.

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Jewish performances at "One World Week"

By Simon Friend, January 30, 2009

As part of Warwick University’s “One World Week”, members of the Jewish Israeli Society performed live in the student union’s World Music Concert alongside the Israeli hip-hop violinist, Miri Ben-Ari.

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Nominations have opened for the chair of the Union of Jewish Students

By Simon Friend, November 21, 2008

Nominations have opened for the chair of the Union of Jewish Students. Campaigning began on November 18 and continues for a week before the candidates' road show arrives in Scotland for the first leg of the annual tour.

Canvassing around the major campuses over the years has become innovative, with last year's election featuring sophisticated websites, YouTube videos, interviews and podcasts. This year's election, with more locations than ever before, will be no less hotly contested.

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Antisemitism on campus discussed at Nottingham

By Simon Friend, November 21, 2008

The chair of the All-Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, John Mann MP, with Yair Zivan, campaigns director of the Union of Jewish Students, tackled contemporary antisemitism on campus this week in a panel discussion at Nottingham University.

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Bristol J-Soc's campus-wide variety show

By Simon Friend, November 21, 2008

What began as a small fundraising event run exclusively for Bristol J-Soc turned into a campus-wide variety show attended by more than 300 students.

Spotlight Darfur, with the help of the student branch of the Aegis Trust - Britain's leading NGO campaigning against genocide - became the society's most successful function.

A range of performing arts' societies attached themselves to the event, which showcased acts such as cabaret and pantomime, live jazz and improvised comedy.

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British students go to Brussels as delegates of UJS for Kristallnacht commemoration

By Simon Friend, November 13, 2008

Two British students went to Brussels this week as delegates of UJS for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Aaron Kienwald, president of London J-Socs; and Aaron Collins, of Bristol University Jewish Society, joined 20 other members of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) at a service which filled the Brussels Great Synagogue.

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Europe's first OneVoice university chapter at Glasgow University

By Simon Friend, November 13, 2008

Europe's first OneVoice university chapter, at Glasgow University, was this week host to the start of a tour of British campuses by Ana Lipnik and Abeer Natsheh, Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders who are just two of the 1,800 OneVoice representatives worldwide.

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"From Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip" event held at Goldsmiths

By Simon Friend, November 13, 2008

An event held this week at Goldsmith's University entitled: "From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip", follows the Palestine twinning campaign's success last year in pairing the university with Al-Quds University in the West Bank. Speaking at the event was Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and member of a Toronto-based group, Not in our Name: Jews against Zionism, who claimed that Israel "uses many of the methods of Nazism to oppress the Palestinians".

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Meeting over Leeds residence met with student anger

By Simon Friend, October 23, 2008

A meeting held this week on the future of the residential Hillel House in Leeds was met with some anger from students from Leeds Metropolitan University. The meeting, chaired by Daniel Marcus, chief executive of UJS Hillel, revealed plans to accommodate Jewish students from Leeds Uni in new digs seconds from the original Hillel House, which will continue to serve kosher food. Plans for students from the Met are not finalised, which worried some.

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The Hebrew University has jumped up 35 places in world rankings

By Simon Friend, October 23, 2008

The Hebrew University has jumped up 35 places since last year in the rankings of the best universities in the world and is now number 93 on The Times Higher Education Survey. Social-science faculties at Tel Aviv and Hebrew universities won spots in the top 60.

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University of St Andrews has the largest J-Soc north of Leeds

By Simon Friend, October 23, 2008

The University of St Andrews has a record 120 Jewish Society members this year, making it the largest J-Soc north of Leeds. "This is an extremely proud achievement as the university only has 7,200 students," says Hayden Krasner, president of the society. Jewish students in Scotland have usually preferred Edinburgh or Glasgow, but due to its growing popularity, St Andrews has now been placed on the Chaplaincy Succah trail and has enough regulars to warrant J-Soc staples such as Shabbat meals and bagel brunches.

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Imperial College student 'trapped' within Gaza

By Simon Friend, October 17, 2008

Emblazoned on the front cover of this week's issue of Felix, the Imperial College London student newspaper, is the story of Zohair Abu Shaban, an electrical-engineering graduate from Gaza University who is, apparently, unable to accept his place at Imperial College for a masters degree owing to being "trapped" within Gaza by an Israeli border patrol.

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Shocking Orthodox late night internet searching

By Simon Friend, October 17, 2008

This week, a religious student at Bar Ilan University, after being struck with a bout of insomnia, ventured to the halls of residence's computer cluster in the early hours of the morning to discover strictly Orthodox men browsing the internet's more questionable material.

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Three Jewish nominees for the Guardian Student Media Awards

By Simon Friend, October 10, 2008

The nominees for the annual Guardian Student Media Awards were announced this week. Three of them are Jewish: Daniel Calder of Manchester University, Naomi Stauber of the University of the Arts, London, and Juliette Gerstein of Leeds University.

Juliette, who has just begun an MPhil in international relations at Oxford University, having completed her BA in politics last year, has been nominated for the award of best Student Diversity writer.

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Gloucester University's Rugby Nazi-themed initiation ceremony caught on camera.

By Simon Friend, October 10, 2008

Gloucester University Rugby 1st XV's Nazi-themed initiation ceremony was caught on camera this week by a fellow student at the university. The footage, which was sold to the BBC, showed players dressed in SS uniforms parading the newer members through the streets with plastic bags over their heads, followed by vomiting due to their excessive drinking.

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UCL's first general meeting of the year held on Kol Nidre

By Simon Friend, October 10, 2008

The first University College London general meeting of this academic year, following the heated assembly in March when the union was twinned with two Palestinian universities, was held on Kol Nidre night.

UCL undergraduate Aryeh Lehrer said: "The decision to hold the AGM on the most observed High Holy-day demonstrates a clear lack of consideration for UCL's 800 Jewish students and disenfranchises a large number of otherwise active individuals."

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Rosh Hashanah makes J-Soc withdraw from Fresher's Fairs

By Simon Friend, October 3, 2008

As Rosh Hashanah fell midweek, J-Soc Freshers' Fair stalls in some universities have had to withdraw from the main union fairs.

Scores of other societies benefit from their presence at these events, which they use as the main function of the year to promote membership. Jewish Societies in both City and Westminster Universities, which both had fairs over the New Year, have arranged for stalls to be set up independently in high-profile spaces on campus, where they can push awareness of their facilities for Jewish students.

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Jeneration Students launched this week.

By Simon Friend, October 3, 2008

This week sees the launch of Jeneration Students - a range of projects which include the publication of the Ultimate Guide to Student Survival and a scheme that will offer activities on campuses across the UK.

eneration is backed by the Movement for Reform Judaism, but there are community-wide as well as Reform events.

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