A motion at the University College London (UCL) to rescind the school’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism was rejected last week by UCL’s student union.

The student union vote was on a proposal calling for adherence to a report by the Academic Board Working Group on Racism and Prejudice, which claimed that the IHRA definition was “not fit for purpose within a university setting and has no legal basis for enforcement.”

The Feb. 3 vote showed 32 percent supporting the proposal and 45 percent against it, along with 23 percent abstaining. The UCL Academic Board plans to meet on Feb. 10 to further discuss the Working Group Report and again debate the IHRA definition.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was officially adopted by UCL in November 2019.

The vote was originally scheduled for Jan. 26, the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom. Members of the UCL Jewish Society were not invited to or notified about the discussion taking place. The vote was moved to Feb. 3 after UCL Jewish Society president Samuel Goldstone found out about the session and shared his dismay over its “shameful and disgusting” timing.

“It is harrowing that after years of complacency over anti-Semitism in British politics, university student unions have not learned their lesson,” said Georgia Leatherdale-Gilholy, U.K. associate for CAMERA on Campus. “The exclusion of Jewish students from the discussion over IHRA first by the academic working group and now the student union is a scandal that would likely not be perpetrated against any other minority at UCL.”


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