'UJS has failed - now it's time for change'

By Marcus Dysch, December 1, 2011
Alex on the campaign trail

Alex on the campaign trail

The Union of Jewish Students elects its new president on Sunday, with law student Alex Green the only candidate standing to lead the union.

The solitary application appears to represent Jewish students' significant loss of interest in the role. In previous years as many as four candidates have sought office.

Despite facing no opposition - apart from a "re-open nominations" campaign - 21-year-old Alex, from Gants Hill, Essex, has spent the past month answering students' questions online and touring campuses.

He believes a series of failures have caused a rift between UJS and its members. In response, he is pledging to work to reverse a situation which has led students to "not expect a lot from UJS any more".

Alex said: "The impression I've got from students is that they feel they do not have a say in how UJS works. The fact I am standing uncontested shows something is going wrong.

"Students tell me UJS does not do much for them - that needs to change. The fact other organisations play such a role on campus shows UJS has failed in some areas. The standards have slipped.

"I want UJS to work with the external organisations, like Aish and Chabad, to incorporate our values."

The Birmingham University student said under his leadership UJS would promote a stance of "pluralism, tolerance and respect".

He said he would work hard to give individual students a greater say in how the union works, by setting up policy forums, national referendums and offering greater transparency.

Alex said his background made him ideally placed to offer something different to previous UJS leaders.

He explained: "I'm from a Reform family and we are not very involved in our local community. I've not come through a youth movement. I think that's what sets me apart.

"People see UJS as a campaigns club and I can see their point. We are a national union and cannot afford to be seen as exclusive. I think JSocs are conscious that they are perceived as having an Orthodox-centric approach. We need a fundamental change."

A former joint-winner of the UJS events award, he is eager to point out that he could bring a range of abilities to the role.

"I'm not just a campaigns candidate and I hope my manifesto reflects that. My motto is 'give extra, get extra'. I want to raise the standards of what students get from UJS but also I expect students to give more back and do more for the union."

The election result will be announced at the end of UJS's one-day conference in Leeds on Sunday.

Last updated: 4:01pm, December 1 2011