Students, not antisemitism activists, should define their time on campus

Sabrina 1 - 0 Bristol University
Sabrina 1 - 0 Bristol University

Government minister Nadhim Zahawi has met with Union of Jewish Students (UJS) president Nina Freedman, vice chancellors and other Jewish groups to discuss antisemitism on campus.

As a victim of on-campus antisemitism, it is so heartwarming to see those with power prioritising this issue. This government has repeatedly taken the time to listen to Jewish students directly as they recount their harrowing experiences

While facing the wrath of David Miller and his Electronic Intifada minions, public support from Rob Halfon MP, then education minister Gavin Williamson and Christian Wakeford revitalised the student-led campaign against anti-Jewish hate. The government rightly propped up young Jewish voices and listened to the needs of Miller’s victims.

Too often, this is not the case. Over-excited communal organisations often overlook and undermine the people they say they want to defend.

Some groups aggressively hijack conversations about campus life, speaking over and above the students who fight on the front lines. Instead of listening to those affected, these well-funded, antisemitism-fighting organisations impose their will onto Jewish students.

This is wrong. It is Jewish students, and Jewish students only, who can speak with candour and authority on the issue of campus antisemitism.

Despite what you may have been led to believe, almost all Jewish students have positive things to say about their time at university – myself included.

Even though I experienced antisemitism in my final year, I still had an overwhelmingly brilliant time at Bristol University.

For me, Jewish campus life mostly consisted of questionable Friday night dinners and drunken club nights. Antisemitism represented such a small part of my life. Non-students, who suggest Jews cower in fear on campus on a daily basis, are wrong.

That is why this conference – which gives agency to Jewish students and their elected leaders – is so vital. Now I am no longer a student, I recognise that I don’t have the authority to speak, as I once did, on the realities of campus life.

Instead, I humbly urge all to turn their attention to the next generation of student campaigners.

I hope Zahawi and other political leaders will listen to this generation and continue to fight anti-Jewish hate.

My experiences have taught me that, although universities aren’t always perfect, we must recognise how welcoming Britain truly is.

 

About the Author
Sabrina is a former Jewish student activist at the University of Bristol, and now a journalist for Jewish News. She has previously been featured in The Telegraph, The Whip and TechRound
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