UCL-UCU Hosting Campus Voices for Palestine event, Thursday 25th January, 18:30
9 January 2024
We are pleased to announce that this month UCL UCU will be hosting a public meeting to defend freedom of speech and academic freedom on campus, in line with branch policy.
This is taking place on
Thursday 25th January 2024 from 18:30 - 20:00
The event is being co-organised with Campus Voices for Palestine. Speakers include Michael Mansfield K.C., Dr. Jo Grady (UCU General Secretary), Dr. Kelli Rudolph (CDBU), Ben Jamal (PSC), Dr. Husam Zomlot (Head of Palestine Mission, UK) and Tom Hickey (BRICUP).
Chaired by UCL UCU Branch President, Dr. Saladin Meckled-Garcia, this will be a hybrid event taking place in the Chemistry Lecture Theatre in the Christopher Ingold Building. It will also be streamed online via Zoom.
Download a poster for the event and post it in your department or share it with your networks.
There are a limited number of in-person tickets available, so colleagues are encouraged to book early.
Why is this meeting important?
Palestine advocacy is under attack on UK campuses. This is happening despite the rights enshrined in UK law that protect both freedom of political advocacy and scholarly research. The leaderships of UK universities have an obligation in law to protect freedom of speech. Yet this duty is not universally observed.
Today, Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza. Deaths, mostly of civilians—40% of them children—have passed 23,000. Collective punishment aimed at forced expulsion is the clear strategy, with schools, hospitals, sanitation, universities, mosques and churches, housing and power generation destroyed. This is not ‘self-defence’ but a second Nakba, with the attempted erasure of a people unfolding before our eyes.
For the leaderships of our main political parties and for the mass media in the UK, these plain truths are unsayable. Some leaders of our academic communities have also been found wanting. For too many, expressing these truths constitutes grounds for censorship, or for suspension and disciplinary action.
Some universities have banned Palestinian events and some have confected grounds to prevent even scholarly discussions about Palestine. Others invoke disciplinary processes against their students and staff in response to malicious complaints that conflate criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism with antisemitism.
Note. At UCL we have seen: threats of disciplinary action against staff and students for expressing moral condemnation of Israel on social media, warning staff against (or blocking) EDI initiatives on Palestine, failing to support staff under attack from the media/government for expressing support for Palestine or criticism of the UK government, censoring statements from departments, and even editing democratically-decided motions from our UCL UCU branch website!
In the face of an unfolding genocide, this silencing of Palestine advocacy needs to be named and challenged. It is the duty of universities to defend academic freedom for their scholars and teachers, and the freedom of expression for those in their campus communities.
Join us for a panel that affirms the legitimacy of addressing the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians, and seeks to defend the right of Palestinians to speak about their experiences, and for a discussion about how to safeguard voices for Palestine on UK campuses.
UCL UCU Executive Committee