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University of Essex: Over 200 Students Vote Against Creation of Jewish Society

Despite receiving opposition from over 200 students, last week the University of Essex Students’ Union declared that the new University of Essex Jewish Society will be established with immediate effect.

Results from the first vote, were declared void, due to an “irregularity”. A student from the university’s Amnesty International Society allegedly directed students to vote against the proposed Jewish Society on accounts of its manifesto, stating the society would celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.

Nick Sunshine from the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said: ‘The Jewish Society did not say that it would have a narrow stance on Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’

The vote was repeated after Dr Maaruf Ali, computer science lecturer at the university, recently accused of posting anti semitic messages on Facebook, had been suspended from teaching.

The now-deleted posts included a denial of the Holocaust, a shared image from a far-right Nazi-apologist website, and a message reading: ‘the Zionists next want to create a society here at our university’.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Foster, announced that the university will launch a review to ensure that Jewish staff and students receive ‘unequivocal support’, and will hold a public event next week demonstrating the university’s support for the Jewish community.

Additionally, the Students’ Union also announced that the process of forming new societies will undergo review, ‘to ensure that all students have a safe and welcoming environment.’

Maariyah Fulat

University of East Anglia: Dog-Walking Initiative Promotes Pawsitive Student Wellbeing

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is to introduce dog walking as a new initiative to help improve student wellbeing through physical activity.

The new scheme follows the receipt of £12,000 of funding from British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS), awarded to universities to support the development of projects that tackle mental health issues through exercise.The money will be used by UEA+sport to create three new initiatives, including dog walking. Research suggests that there are significant benefits to dog-walking.

Professor Andy Jones, academic at Norwich Medical School, carried out the research and stated, ‘Our studies have shown that dog walking helps people to maintain their physical activity levels. In addition it is known that there are a wide range of social and mental health benefits.’

It was concluded in last year’s British Active Students Survey that students who are more physically active also benefit from better mental wellbeing and higher academic grades.

Phil Steele, Direction of Sport and Commercial Services, also added: ‘Many students live away from their family home and pets, so having contact with animals can be stress-relieving for them.’

Eleanor Smith

University of Kent: ‘Bog Off, Rees-Mogg’ – Students Protest Politician’s Visit

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Tory politician and avid Brexiteer, visited the university on February 22nd to give a talk to members of Liberty Union. The group identifies itself as a ‘liberty-focused centre to right wing platform for ideas and discussions on campus’.

His visit was met with a large demonstration organised by Young Europeans Canterbury. The protest was silent and occurred both outside and inside the Woolf Lecture Hall where Rees-Mogg delivered his talk.

The group wore Rees-Mogg masks and held placards featuring a statement the politician gave in the House of Commons in 2011 calling for a second referendum should the public vote leave.  

Iva Divković, Publicity Secretary for Young Europeans Canterbury said: ‘As a European University, we have already experienced the negative repercussions of Brexit with professors leaving and a decline in student applications, so it is incomprehensible why university societies are interested in favourably accommodating a person like Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose perspectives will lead to the downgrading and further deficit of our University.’

Meanwhile, Femi Oluwole, chairman of the group Our Future, Our Choice, gave his own speech at the university later that afternoon. The group are campaigning for a second referendum on Brexit.

Eleanor Smith

University of Zululand, South Africa: University Assures it is Still Open, Despite Fake Posters Announcing its Closure

The university has responded to fake posters circulating that are claiming it will be closed until 2020 following a series of violent student protests.

On Sunday 17th February, the KwaDlangewz campus was set alight as part of the protests. Unpaid allowances and tuition fees and reportedly the motivations for the protests.

The university released a statement on the matter on Facebook, outlining that: ‘It has come to the University’s attention that certain students and individuals are distorting, manufacturing and spreading fake news using university templates. Not only are these actions malicious but they create an environment of distrust and misinformation which could cause harm to the student community and stakeholders.’

The post continued: ‘The trending notice amongst many makes mention that the university will only reopen in 2020. This is not true and the university condemns fake news in the strongest terms and urges students to refrain from spreading misinformation’.

Despite this statement, teaching remains suspended at the university and no students are allowed on campus.

Eleanor Smith

Roger Williams University, Rhode Island: Uni Introduces Module on Marvel’s Black Panther

Students at the university will be considering Black Panther in its cultural context as they undertake the new module titled ‘Wakanda Forever: The Racial Politics in Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’’.

The module was created by Assistant Professor of American Studies Aaron C. Allen. Allen stated that: ‘Before starting this class, I knew that Black Panther was doing important things, but now I feel like I have a better idea of specifically how.’

Students are encouraged to study this piece of popular culture in an analytical and critical way, to discover the comments it makes on power, oppression and resistance.

One student, Anthony Holehouse, who took the course found it gave him a new perspective on how the film represented Hip Hop and African culture. Holehouse continued that, ‘It was a piece of work that was meant to educate, empower, and give people like myself a new way to view themselves.’

Another student, Emily Craig, expressed her enthusiasm for the module by concluding that: ‘To understand ourselves, and the policies and structures we put in place, we must understand and see our media through a more complex lens.’

Eleanor Smith

Image: [Pixabay]