Bristol University’s inertia is inexplicable

David Miller (Screenshot from CST's Twitter via Jewish News)
David Miller (Screenshot from CST's Twitter via Jewish News)

The University of Bristol has the privilege of welcoming students from all over the UK and the world to one of our most diverse and vibrant cities.  Like all our universities, Bristol prides itself on being a tolerant and inclusive place to learn.  How shocking, then, that Bristol is currently a university in limbo, failing to act after one of its own professors directly undermined that ethos.

The University’s inertia is inexplicable in the face of Professor David Miller continuing to stand by his deeply offensive remarks, including those directly targeting individual students in the University’s Jewish Society.  David Miller’s views are extreme and abhorrent, but he goes beyond even that when he targets individual students such as the ‘head’ of the University of Bristol Jewish Society for abuse.

The President and other members of the University’s Jewish Society are not the ‘political pawns’ of a foreign regime as Miller abhorrently claims.  This is a racist attempt to ‘other’ Jewish students and portray them and the wider Jewish community as not fully British.

When Miller states that ‘they must be directly targeted’ he is not exercising free speech, he is threatening students at his own university and making them unsafe.  All of this should be unacceptable to the University’s authorities and yet for several years they have done nothing.  Like many others, I’m still waiting for a reply to the letter I sent to the Pro-Vice Chancellor asking him to take action.

In 2018 Miller said of Jewish students, ‘these are not students who are spontaneously threatened’, yet it is Professor Miller himself who is threatening them.

These young Jewish students are members of the University of Bristol family. Young students whose human rights demand that they are given equal status and equal protection to that rightly afforded, through its Royal Charter, to every single student regardless of their background or beliefs.

Professor Miller is spreading the very fear and hatred he purports to oppose.  The University’s failure to act compounds Miller’s behaviour.  It is well beyond time for the University of Bristol to act decisively and act promptly to protect the rights of its own students to live and study free from fear and abuse.

About the Author
Steve Reed MP is Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He is Member of Parliament for Croydon North.
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