Union leaders pledge to end campus fears

Students should feel safer than in previous years when they return to campuses later this month, according to Union of Jewish Students leaders.
Better relations with the National Union of Students and work to improve reporting of antisemitism have left the UJS "much better placed" to defend its members than ever before, according to its campaigns director.
In May, Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks said that Jewish students were made to feel like "pariahs" on campuses around the UK and called for universities to do more to protect them.
His comments came after a government progress report on the response to the Parliamentary All-Party Inquiry into Antisemitism had highlighted such problems on campus as one of three areas "which remain of concern and require further work".
Last year, in the first month of term, Jewish students were rocked by more than 20 recorded antisemitic incidents, including at least one case of verbal abuse being shouted at a group returning from a synagogue.But UJS campaigns director Yair Zivan this week said that the NUS had "improved dramatically" in combating antisemitism during the past four years and predicted calmer life on campuses.
He said: "The NUS is now one of the leading organisations in fighting antisemitism, largely because of the pressure and involvement of Jewish students within the union and the leadership of current president Wes Streeting."
Mr Streeting this week told the JC he wanted to ensure the "experience for all Jewish students on campus is all they hope and expect it to be".
A Community Security Trust spokesman added: "We applaud UJS's determination to instil greater confidence and pride in Jewish students. In addition, UJS's work with student unions has been an excellent example of alliance-building in defence of Jewish rights."
Mr Zivan said the most important work facing the union in the new academic year would be working with universities to implement race-relations legislation which requires active promotion of equal opportunities for all students.
The troublesome problem of exams that coincide with Jewish holidays will be one of the first elements to be
tackled.
There will be an expansion of last year's scheme in which Holocaust survivors were taken to meet students on 10 campuses.
To coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day, UJS will also work with the Holocaust Educational Trust to put more speakers in touch with students to "pass the message on to the next generation".
In November, Jewish students will be encouraged to take part in a Social Action Sunday event to "give something back" to the communities which surround universities.
Each J-Soc will make its own decision whether to work with its local Jewish community or general charities, said a UJS spokesperson.

    Last updated: 10:32am, September 4 2008