Independent antisemitism inquiry launched at Goldsmiths University

This will be the first independent inquiry into antisemitism at a UK university

Goldsmiths, University of London, has announced it is launching an independent inquiry into antisemitism.

Being the first antisemitism inquiry by an external lawyer at a UK university, the investigation will review whether students and staff experience antisemitism, how Goldsmiths responded to previous complaints, and if it has done enough with its policies to fulfil legal duties and make “its Jewish students and staff feel welcome, included, and safe.”

The call for students, staff, alumni, and the public to share relevant experiences is open from 18th May until 18th August.

(Image via Google Streeview)

The inquiry came after the university’s announcement last June that it was going to hold “an independent review” following reports of antisemitism, “including those linked to Goldsmiths Students’ Union.”

Goldsmiths’ Warden, Prof Frances Corner, mentioned in the announcement the incident of Jewish professor David Hirsh being called a “far right white supremacist” on Twitter for claiming the National Students’ Union (NUS)’s “decolonise education” campaign has an “antisemitic edge.”

The person who made the comment was the President of Goldsmiths’ SU at the time, Sara Bafo. They later labelled their comment as “a tweet I made in response to a Zionist Goldsmiths academic’s explicit racist history [and] delegitimisation of ‘Decolonisation’ campaigns.”

The Warden responded to the incident at the time: “We are supporting Dr Hirsh after unwarranted messages about him were posted on social media, which I believe are utterly without foundation. These kinds of behaviours are completely unacceptable and will always be challenged.”

Goldsmiths told The London Tab the independent inquiry starting this summer is not motivated by any individual incidents.

A Goldsmiths spokesperson said: “There was no one moment which prompted our decision to hold an inquiry. We received or became aware of a small number of reports of antisemitism, but given the strong possibility of under-reporting, we refuse to be complacent about this issue. 

“We are launching an independent investigation into antisemitism because we want to ensure that we are providing a safe and supportive environment for Jewish staff and students to study and work. Figures from the Community Security Trust (CST) show a 22 per cent rise in antisemitic hate incidents at universities and reports of antisemitism and leave no room for complacency.

We will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that Goldsmiths is a safe and supportive place for Jewish staff and students.”

A NUS spokesperson told The London Tab regarding professor Hirsh’s and Sara Bafo’s comments: “In May 2022, NUS commissioned Rebecca Tuck KC to lead an independent investigation into antisemitism.

“Her report has shown that there have been incidents of antisemitism within the student movement and within NUS: this has given us the clarity to act. NUS has accepted the report in full, and has published an Antisemitism Action Plan, which will be overseen by an Advisory Panel. Jewish students have the right to feel safe and welcome in the student movement. We will fight antisemitism shoulder to shoulder wherever it raises its ugly head.”

Sara Bafo and Goldsmiths’ Students’ Union have been approached for comment.

Feature image via Google Streetview. 

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