CUSU target NUS over issues of anti-Semitism in open letter

In an open letter, CUSU have challenged the NUS over their failure to address issues of anti-Semitism.

anti-semitism Cambridge Cambridge University CUSU disaffiliation Malia Bouattia NUS richard brooks student politics

Voting is now open in the NUS disaffiliation referendum. Vote by following this link. Vote Yes for disaffiliation or No to remain affiliated. 

Three weeks after the mandate to hold a referendum on CUSU’s affiliation with NUS was passed, CUSU have released an open letter to NUS entitled “Open Letter to the National Union of Students (NUS) requesting urgent next steps to stem anti-Semitism in student movement”.

Following widespread anger over the controversial appointment of Malia Bouttai as President of NUS, the open letter marks a long-awaited acknowledgement of the mounting pressure upon CUSU to respond to a growing disillusionment with NUS.

The election of Malia sparked the whole debate.

The letter makes mention of the recent interview with NUS Vice-President, Richard Brooks, in which Brooks confirmed that NUS subscribes to the European Forum of Anti-Semitism’s definition of anti-Semitism, despite the extensively publicised concerns over anti-Semitism surrounding the newly elected NUS President.

Addressing the cause of the politicised inflammation surrounding Bouttai, the letter confirms that “On the basis of NUS subscribing to such a definition, it is regrettable that CUSU must express clear concern that President-elect Malia Bouattia has received widespread coverage for several statements considered unacceptable by Jewish students”. These unacceptable statements include, according to CUSU, the endorsement of the belief in a “Zionist global media conspiracy” which has been weaponised to “undermine and discredit the oppression of Jewish people”.

Signed by CUSU President Priscilla Mensah, as well as Education Officer Robert Cashman, Coordinator Jemma Stewart, Welfare and Rights Officer Poppy Ellis Logan, Access and Funding Officer Helena Blair and Women’s Officer Charlotte Chorley, the letter calls for “an urgent and fully transparent outline of the steps that Ms. Bouattia will take as President of NUS to address anti-Semitism within the student movement”.

The election of Malia has led to the proposal of a referendum for disaffection from the NUS

One of the leaders of the campaign for disaffiliation with NUS, Adam Crafton, welcomed CUSU’s step towards addressing the problems with NUS:

“This is an extremely proud moment for Jewish students at the University of Cambridge and I hope also for the wider community. I want to thank the JCR Presidents and MCR Presidents present at the CUSU Council meeting on May 2nd. It was they who voted for and obliged CUSU to write this letter and they who listened to the concerns aired by our campaign earlier this month. CUSU have now been obliged to recognise in writing the dangerous current of anti-Semitism coursing through the NUS and this represents a step forward in the long-running battle to challenge deep-seated and racist ideas that unfortunately remain prevalent on university campuses across the United Kingdom.”

CUSU’s letter to NUS heralds an eagerly anticipated concession not only to a dissatisfaction with the problems plaguing NUS. With the referendum on disaffiliation taking place later this week, could this make or break people’s decisions ahead of the vote?