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‘Student Rights’ group exposed

By HILARY AKED ▪ Editor

ALondon Student investigation has re- vealed links between a “non-partisan” group operating on London university campuses and at least one conservative think-tank, as well as showing that the organisation’s actual studentmember- ship is severely limited.

Thegroup,knownas ‘StudentRights’,

describes itself as“anon-partisanpressure group”campaigningfor“equality,democ- racyandfreedomfromextremismonuni- versity campuses,” and has gained increased exposure in the nationalmedia in the wake of the attempted Christmas day bombing by former UCL student UmarFaroukAbdulmutallab. It claims to fight “a growing culture of

discrimination on campus” and was founded in June 2009 in reaction to “in- creasing political extremismandmargin- alisation of vulnerable students on campus.” Director Raheem Kassam ad- mitted that this referred to increased ac- tivism on campuses over

Israel-Palestine conflict, such as occupa- tionsoverGazaandStudentUnions twin- ningwithPalestinianuniversities. Under theheading‘WhatWeDo’,Stu-

dent Rights’ website says it runs “cam- paigns dedicated to protecting the rights youare entitledto as a student” andhosts “various events throughout the year”. In the lastmonth, the phrase “to highlight the necessity for greater freedom of

speech”was removed fromthe end of the second sentence. Itsmain public activity has been to put pressure on various Stu- dentsUnions to cancel talks by individu- als it believes hold extremist views. Notably, numerousMuslimspeakers have attracted the group’s attention,with

also accused himof having used the term “‘filth”todescribe Jews.Quickis reported to have gone on record saying “Muslims are going to have to take a stand [against homosexuals] and it’s not enough to call names”. In the past, UCL Union, under pres-

Photo has been blocked out pending the resolution of a copyright dispute (27/4/2010)

LondonStudent

mentswere taken out of context. Incontrast,StudentRightsopposeno-

platformpolicies for fascistgroups likethe BNP. In an editorial datedNovember 9th 2009, they criticiseLSE SUfor passing a no-platform policy. They called it “an- other example of Student Unions going

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www.london-student.net

the great debate:

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nvestment

• Muslim speakers’ talks at many Londonuniscalledoffafterpressure

• Group criticises SUs with ‘no- platformfor fascists’policies

• ‘Neo-con’ Henry Jackson Society paidforFreshersFair stallatLSE

risk of normalising racism or other ex- tremeviews.Ontheotherhandexcluding themfromthemainstreampublic arena cultivates their views underground and fallsbackonclaims that thedemocracywe live in is in actual fact undemocratic.” It also states: “Student Rights draws

Campaigning for equality, democracy and

freedomfrom extremismon university campuses’

Student Rights’

mission statement

the

Student RightsDirector RaheemKassampretending to receive a backhander fromDonal Blaney, co-founder of theYoung Britons Foundation

UCL, Queen Mary, SOAS, LSE, Cam- bridge and Birmingham universities being criticised for their choice to invite certain speakers. Last Thursday (Febru- ary25th),StudentRights labelledanevent hosted byKing’s College Islamic Society as “yet another abuse of universities’ lais- sez-faire approach to campus security”. They said that Sheikh AbdullahHakim Quick was “a vicious homophobe” and

sure from Student Rights and Peter Tatchell’s gay rights group ‘Outrage’, dis- invited preacher Abu Usamah, also ac- cused of homophobic rhetoric, in November2009.Usamahwas recordedfor Channel Four’s television documentary, ‘UndercoverMosque’, as saying: “Doyou practice homosexuality with men? Take that homosexualman….and throw him off themountain”.He claims these com-

ULUtopay its cleaners London

By ANDREWde CASTRO ▪ News Editor

University of London Union

(ULU) has announced plans to in- troduce the London Living Wage (LLW) for its cleaning and catering staff by the end of April, meaning that many workers can now look forward to a pay increase.

Despite the plans, the Union will

save £30,000 a year on all cleaning services by switching to an alterna- tive company, LPM Ltd, after the cleaning contract was put out to ten- der in November last year. The LLW is a London-specific

minimum wage, which takes into ac- count the higher costs of living in the

capital city, and includes a minimum holiday entitlement and sick pay, and gives workers the right to join a Trades Union. The LLWis currently £7.60 per hour, £1.87 above the Na- tional Minimum Wage. The implementation of the wage

follows a motion passed by the ULU Senate last year which requested an

investigation into the prospect of im- plementing the higher Wage. Nizam Uddin, ULU President, be-

lieves employers have a responsibil- ity for staff; “The Living Wage is an absolutely essential wage for those most vulnerable in our society to be

continued on page 7

12 page culture supplement

beyondtheir role andlimitingfree speech on campus.” “The BNP is a legitimate political

party that haswon two seats in theEuro- pean Election, has around 60 councilors intheUKandjustunderonemillionpeo- ple voted for themacross the UK. Free- dom of speech regarding the BNP is a difficult line to tread, as by granting the extremerightanopenplatformit runs the

the line at violence and hate-speech, but this doesn’t tend to be the topic formost BNPmembers.” London Student has found links be-

tween Student Rights and a think-tank called theHenry Jackson Society as well as informal links betweenDirectorKas- samandthe ‘YoungBritons’Foundation’. The Henry Jackson Society, a think-

continued on page 5

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