Tuesday, July 03, 2007

British academics resolve not to report suspicious behavior

This is a report of a motion passed before the recent terror attacks. UCU, you will recall, recently received attention by calling for a boycott of Israel. From Muslim News (UK):
Britain’s university lecturers and academics have voted unanimously to reject Government plans to join a "witch hunt" against Muslim students. A motion condemning the controversial proposals, first mooted last year, was passed by delegates at the inaugural congress of the University and College Union (UCU) in Bournemouth on May 29.

The UCU, the country’ biggest professional organization for university staff, called on its 120,000 members to "resist attempts by Government to engage colleges and universities in activities which amount to increased surveillance of Muslim or other minority students and to the use of members of staff for such witch-hunts."

"Congress resolves to oppose the ethnic profiling of students and staff for the purposes of immigration control or security purposes," said the motion. It added it would "challenge incursions of the security and immigration services onto university and college campuses" and defend the right of its members to refuse to cooperate with attempts to "transform education into an extension of the security services."

The motion expressed outrage at the "continuing and escalating demonisation" of Muslim and other minority communities. "This campaign of vilification is apparent in both media and government pronouncements and threatens to impinge on the proper business of education," it warned.

The rejection of the Government’s plans, issued in new guidelines for universities last November, was welcomed by the largest umbrella Muslim organization in the UK, Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). "Our universities must remain institutions which facilitate and encourage rigorous intellectual inquiry and discourse," said MCB Secretary General, Mohammed Abdul Bari. "The role of lecturers must be to facilitate and encourage critical thinking, not to stifle it or abort the process," he said.

UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said that delegates made it clear they will oppose Government attempts to restrict academic freedom or free speech on campus. "Lecturers want to teach students, if they wanted to police them they would have joined the force," Hunt told the congress. She said staff had a "pivotal role in building trust" and that these proposals, if implemented, would make that all but impossible.

Universities, the General Secretary said, must remain "safe spaces for lecturers and students to discuss and debate all sorts of ideas, including those that some people may consider challenging, offensive and even extreme." She said the last thing needed was "people too frightened to discuss an issue because they fear some quasi-secret service will turn them in."

The new guides ask university staff to log suspicious behaviour by Muslim students and societies, claiming that "violent extremism in the name of Islam is a real, credible and sustained threat to the UK." In April, it was also reported that British authorities were also planning to introduce new security measures at universities to vet all non-EU postgraduates applying to study a range of potentially sensitive subjects. [...]
Can't have that.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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