Students Staff
University of Essex

February 22, 2019

Speaking out against all forms of antisemitism

Professor Anthony Forster

Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor

We are a University that must live by our values and the events of this week have raised important questions for us. On behalf of our community, I want to speak out against all forms of antisemitism.

Antisemitism and any other form of hate crime are antithetical to the values of the University and have no place on our campuses. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition and associated examples are our guide. This states that, “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

I am pleased the Students’ Union’s Sabbatical Officer team has now met and, following a discussion with the Trustee Board, has made the joint decision to ratify the Jewish Society immediately.

Serious allegations have been made against a member of University staff. In accordance with our University procedures, an independent investigation of these allegations has been initiated and whilst this takes place a member of staff has been suspended. The creation of a Students’ Union Jewish Society and the allegations made against a member of staff require us to address specific issues, but we must also ask ourselves some hard questions about the lived experience of Jewish students and staff at Essex and ensure we are a community that is genuinely welcoming and supportive to all.

I have therefore asked the Deputy Vice-Chancellor to lead a review asking our Jewish students and staff to share their experiences of studying, living and working at Essex. The review will, within the next 8 weeks: identify ways in which we can have greater confidence that the experience of Jewish students and staff reflects our commitments and values; and

  • make recommendations to the University’s Council on actions that we should take to address any issues of concern that arise from the review;
  • identify mechanisms so that Council will be able to satisfy itself that through our actions we are having a positive impact on the lived experience of Jewish students and staff; and
  • draw any wider conclusions of relevance to all faith groups at the University, so that we ensure that all faith communities at Essex feel welcome.

We don’t accept any form of antisemitism in our community and I am therefore asking you to join me on Thursday 28th February at 1pm in Square 3 in a public show of solidarity and support, making this clear and demonstrating our support for our Jewish students and staff.

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