Student leader will give power back to grassroots

By Charlotte Oliver, July 3, 2014
New UJS president Ella Rose wants students to appraise union staff

New UJS president Ella Rose wants students to appraise union staff

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, LGBT+ 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 World unions, so I think we're doing OK."

Last updated: 8:49am, July 4 2014