LSE: This kind of support is not what students need

April 01, 2017 12:35

 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, 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

April 01, 2017 12:35

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